Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas has started….

Presents & Parties,

Music & dancing into the night.

Singing & laughter, raising the rafters,

Have yourself a wonderful time!

This happens to be my favourite Christmas song this year, after S performed this & a few more songs at her school performance. There is definitely something magical about watching little kids go up on the stage and sing & dance without any inhibitions. S is totally into the Christmas mood now, the tree is decorated and we are listening to Christmas songs (almost all the time!!). The only thing remaining is the food and today I have no excuses for putting it off, especially because the school holidays have also started. I am anyway looking out for a chance to bake, so no complaints there!

Here are some recipes you can try out too.




Heres wishing all of you a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Blog Hop – Mini Kaja

I feel like I am perpetually running these days and always getting late for something or the other. Late for S’s school, my work, to cook dinner, to sleep and so on. Its no wonder then that I am late for posting for the Blog Hop too.

I was paired with Sreevalli of Ammaji Recipes for this week and I had decided on what to make from her blog, long back but things were veru hectic and so everything was delayed. But I here I am finally posting Mini Kaja, an Andhra sweet which seemed so simple to make that I read the recipe 2-3 times before I was convinced.


Mini Kaja



  • 1/2 Cup Plain Flour (Maida)
  • 1 pinch of Baking Soda
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Yogurt
  • 1 tblsp Ghee (Clarified Butter) + 3 tblsp while rolling
  • 1/4 cup Rice flour
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cardamom Powder
  • Water
  • Oil for frying


Method: Combine the plain flour, baking soda and the ghee. Use the yogurt to knead all this into a dough. Cover this and let it rest for about 2 hours.

To prepare the sugar syrup, take the sugar in a deep pan, cover it with water and let this come to a boil. Once it starts boiling, reduce the flame and simmer until the syrup almost reaches a one string consistency. Add the cardamom powder this, mix well and switch off the flame.

Heat the oil in a kadai for frying. Divide the dough prepared earlier into 3 equal parts, roll each part to a thickness of about 0.5 cm. Spread 1 tblsp of the ghee on to this and sprinkle some rice flour. Now gently roll this and cut into small strips. Repeat with the remaining 2 parts of the dough and use up the 2 tblsp ghee.

Drop these kajas into the hot oil and fry ona  medium flame until they turn brown and crispy. Drain them on to a kitchen towel and after 1-2 minutes, drop them into the prepared sugar syrup. Keep them soaked for about 15 minutes before transferring to an air tight container for storage.

My  Notes: As is evident, it is quite simple to make but the end result is addictively delicious. We couldnt stop munching them even though I am not too fond of sweet things!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Tomato Onion Bonda

As expected I am back on a Wednesday for the Blog Hop of course. This time however I nearly missed the train.

We are slowly coming out of the Holiday mood and settling in the school routine. Although we had everything arranged and ready for the start of school, I am still running around arranging for things as & when the necessity pops up. So nowadays it is just chatting with other mums about the school, while dropping the kids & picking them up and making sure that S gets into regular routine everyday so that she will be fine when the school starts full day for her. As this takes up all my time & mind space, I am wondering what it will be like, once I get back to work in another fortnight!

As usual I left it for the last minute without realising that there was some work to be done in the kitchen during this week and so I ended up being one day late for this post. But as the well used saying goes ‘Better late than never’!

For this week’s Blog Hop I was paired with Priya of Now Serving. She has a very interesting mix of recipes on her blog but this one immediately caught my attention because first of all I had never used chopped Tomatoes in a Bonda or anything fried for that matter and the combination of onion & tomato is a personal favourite. The other reason was that it was very simple and quick to make.

Tomato Onion Bonda




  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes, chopped
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 Tsp Chilli Powder
  • a pinch of Hing (Asafoetida)
  • About 3/4 cup Rice Flour (Adjust as required)
  • Oil for frying


Method: Combine the chopped onion, tomatoes & coriander leaves in a bowl. Add the salt, chilli powder & Hing and mix well, mashing with the back of the spoon.

Once the mixture lets out water, add the rice flour and mix without adding any water if possible. Although the original recipe says that no water is to be added, I had to add a few drops to enable me to shape them into balls.

Heat the oil in a deep pan. Once the oil is hot, drop the balls in it and fry on medium flame till they start to turn brown and turn crisp.

Drain and serve hot with Ketchup & Green Chutney.

My Notes: This reminded me of the Akki Rotti that we used to make at home (specially at my friend N’s place). as expected the combination of onion & tomato was delicious. The Bondas were totally crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. We need to make sure to fry them on a medium flame so that they are cooked well on the inside. A very quick & easy recipe for those evening snack cravings and also when unexpected guests drop in!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Its time for the Sweet Punch and this month’s challenge was Chocolate Almond Biscotti from Joy of Baking.

But before I move on to that, let me tell you a little about our weekend excursion to the ‘Chocolate Factory’, well, Cadbury World to be precise since the visit to the factory was just a part of the whole experience. We went on a Saturday and reached there after a long drive of more than 2 hours, but it was totally worth it. Being a complete chocolate lover I was more excited than little S, more so because I had a very good excuse to eat as many chocolates as I wanted on the day. How can you restrict eating chocolates when you go to a chocolate factory. So in short I had my fill without feeling guilty at all, collected some more to bring back home and generally had a great ‘chocolatey’ time and brought back this mug to motivate S to drink up her milk!

Coming back to the challenge, as usual I made it on the last day, hoping all the time that I dont make any mistakes as I didn't have enough time to make it again. Thankfully everything worked out fine. This was my second experience with a Biscotti and it made me wonder why I dont make them often as they are very easy to make, take very little time & preparations and have very little room for going wrong.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti



Makes about 12-15


  • 1 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 110 gm Chocolate, coarsely chopped (or chocolate chips)


Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C (160 deg for an electric fan assisted oven). Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt and keep aside. Roast the almonds and chop them coarsely (you can pulse them in a grinder but make sure they are not powdered).

In a bowl, combine the eggs and the sugar and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture turns pale & fluffy. It should leave a trail when you lift the mixer.

Add the flour mixture to this and mix well. Add the almonds & chocolate and fold in.

Transfer this dough to the baking sheet and shape it into a log (roughly) and bake this in the pre heated oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Transfer the cooked log on to a wire rack and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile turn down the oven temperature to 165 deg C (145 deg for an electric fan assisted oven).


Cut the log into slices (about an inch thick) and place them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the sheet from oven and turn the biscotti the other way and bake for another 10 min until they start turning brown.

Remove on to the wire rack and cool them completely.

My Notes: I used Dark chocolate and followed the exact recipe otherwise. The Biscotti that I got felt very much like the ‘Rusk’ we used to have with the tea, so I guess I got a good result, as Biscotti (singular:Biscotto) is the Italian version of the Rusk!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Cabbage Santula

It seems like I am only posting for the Blog hop these days! A summer vacation with a 4 yr old almost hyper girl takes its toll. Dont get me wrong, I am enjoying it completely. Trips to the shopping centre (spending most of the time telling her to stay with me and not run, not to touch each & everything in a shop, explaining why we cant buy everything that we want and so on!), lots of drawing, colouring & crafts at home, kids movies (one every week!), play dates with her friends (giving me a chance to catch up with mine!) and just put simply – spending time with her.

But all those activities take time and I have hardly any left for anything else nowadays, so thanks to the Blog Hop this blog at least sees me once in 2 weeks!

This week I was paired with Mugdha who blogs at Cooking Fundas. A quick glance through her space and I realised that hers was a cuisine about which I knew very little apart from the odd Panch Phoron and mustard paste. And even though I know about these things, I hardly use them in my cooking. We are sometimes so set about making something in a specific way that it doesnt even cross our minds that there may be a different way of doing things. This was one of the reason I picked this particular recipe.

I have been making Cabbage Bhaji in a particular way since I care to remember and it was good to find a different way of making the same vegetable.


Cabbage Santula

Picture 162



  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1/2 tblsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
  • 1 tsp Panch Phoron (A mixture of Mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, Nigella seeds, Fenugreek seeds in equal quantities)
  • 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1-2 Red Chillies (Depending upon the spice level)
  • salt
  • Fresh Coriander leaves


Mix 1 tsp of Turmeric Powder with water, enough to soak the shredded cabbage. Leave it aside for 5-10 minutes.

Heat the oil and add the Panch Phoron to it. As the seeds start to crackle, add the red chillies and then the chopped onion. Sauté for a minute and add the ginger-garlic paste. Fry this for another minute

Add the chopped tomatoes, salt and Turmeric Powder. Mix well and let it cook till the tomatoes turn mushy.

Drain the cabbage, squeeze out the water and add this to the hot pan. Mix well and cook on a medium flame till the cabbage is cooked.

Mix chopped coriander leaves and turn off the heat. Serve hot with Chapatis or as a side with Rice.

My Notes: This was a very delicious alternative to the cabbage bhaji that we are used to. I did wonder about the colour of the bhaji as the picture on Mugdha’s blog showed it to be almost red in colour but it might have been the quality of the turmeric powder or the quantity of tomato.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Chettinad Potato (Urulai) Roast – Blog Hop

Its blog hop time again and this time I was paired with Kaveri whose blog Palakkad Chamayal, as the name suggests, showcases the Palakkad cuisine. One of those delicious sounding dishes would have been my natural choice but for the fact that I did not have any coconut at home. That is a problem you face if you end up making it at the last minute. I tried to look for a Palakkad dish which doesnt use coconut or a dish in which I could have cheated and left out the coconut, but I soon realised that coconut must be the essence of Palakkad cooking as none of the dishes sounded right without it!

So finally I had to settle for another South Indian cuisine, which is very intriguing for me because of the spices involved. Chettinad cuisine is well know for the hot and spicy food and a combination of that with Potatoes was an instant winner for me. The ‘chettinad’ part also reminded me of an incident some 5 years agao when GM & I had gone out for lunch and had ordered Chettinad Paneer, in spite of being warned off by the waiter that it was going to be very spicy. We had brushed off the waiter’s concern saying, we liked spicy! But when the dish was served both of us had tears in our eyes because it was too hot for us to handle. Since then we have been told that Chettinad cuisine is not only about being spicy & hot but being spicy in the right way so that the dish is not overpowered. I am sure the restaurant had taken the ‘spiciness too seriously and so had always wanted to try out something somewhere else. what better way to sample it than make it yourself?

Another thing that was pleasantly surprising was the minimal amount of ingredients involved. I had always thought that there would be a long list of spices to achieve that chettinad taste but it seems that the peppercorns do all the work here.


Chettinad Potato Roast

Picture 0814



  • 12-15 Baby Potatoes (I cut mine into halves as they were slightly big in size)
  • 1-2 tsps Urad Dal (Split Black gram)
  • 1-2 dry red chillies
  • 4-5 Black Peppercorns
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • a pinch of Hing (Asafoetida)
  • a pinch of Turmeric Powder
  • 5-7 Curry Leaves


Boil & peel the baby potatoes and keep aside. Dry roast the Urad Dal, red chillies and Peppercorns and grind to get a powder.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. As they start spluttering, add the curry leaves, hing and turmeric powder.

Add the boiled potatoes to this and toss/sauté for about 4-5 minutes. Now add the ground spices along with salt to taste. Mix well and cook on a medium flame till the potatoes start to brown and turn slightly crisp from the outside.

Serve with Chapatis or as a side for rice.

My Notes: This seemed like a proper Chettinad dish. It was spicy but at the same time delicious. Potato being a favourite was an added advantage.

I am now encouraged to try other Chettinad dishes and will be on the look out for some recipes.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Banana & Strawberry Muffins

Its time for a Sweet Punch and the challenge this time was to make Banana & Strawberry muffins, following a recipe from the blog Joy of Cooking.

This was one of those rare occasions where I had completed the challenge just days after it was announced. Usually I manage to leave it till the last minute and then have to struggle to cook/bake, take pictures, draft the post and publish, all within 2-3 hours. Completing the challenge well in time also enabled me to make it again before the posting.

This challenge also gave me a chance to get adjusted to the new oven in the new house. It is an electric fan oven and I am still trying to get the hang of it. I have realised that I have to reduce the temperature by about 20 deg c than what is mentioned in the recipe for a convection oven. Also it is a good idea to keep checking near the end of the baking time to make sure they dont char. Do you have any experience with this and have tips to share?

The first time I made these muffins, I halved the recipe but still got about 10 small muffins. The second time I made the full batch and got exactly 12 muffins as the recipe says, it must be something to do with the amount of batter you pour into each cup of the pan!

Banana & Strawberry  Muffins

Picture 1021


Makes 12


  • 2 1/4 cups Plain Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon powder
  • 3/4 Cups Sugar (The recipe calls for light brown but I have used Caster sugar)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, cut into small pieces (the second time I made these muffins, i used mixed berries – strawberries, blackberries & raspberries)


Pre heat the oven to 177 deg C (160 deg C if yours is an electric fan oven like mine!). Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a big bowl, sieve together the plain flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the sugar and cinnamon powder and mix well. Add the cut berries to this flour mixture and combine well to coat each piece of fruit.

In a different smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla extract and mashed bananas. Add the melted butter to this and mix well.

Add this wet mixture to the flour mixture and combine gently. Do not over mix as the muffins will turn out hard.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake in the pre heated oven for about 20 minutes. Insert a toothpick and check, if the toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are cooked through. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool down.

Picture 011

My Notes:  The muffins were absolutely delicious both the times.  The second one however had a lot of seeds because of the other berries. I love all the berries but sometimes its too much to handle the seeds. Can something be done about this?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

French Beans Stir Fry

How does it feel to visit some one, look at their house, the way they have decorated & arranged it, admire the beautiful knick-knacks present, and then be offered food (lunch, dinner or even tea!)? Food that is so different from the way you cook the same kind of dish and also get to know the variety of food items that they usually make at home. This is exactly how I felt while taking part in the Blog Hop Wednesdays, an event initiated by Radhika of Tickling Palates.


Its a very simple system. You are paired with a fellow food blogger and all you have to do is cook one dish picked from that blog and write about it on Wednesday. Only it is really not that simple, mainly because there are so many good things to choose from. How do you pick just one?

For the first edition I was paired with Harini of Tamalapaku. This blog has a good mix of traditional and fusion recipes. The Quinoa recipes on her blog had got me totally interested and I have all them bookmarked. But the one I chose to make now was a simple stir fry. The main reason behind choosing this recipe was that I make French Beans in a totally different way (coming soon on the blog!) and this was such a simple sounding recipe. Although I have tastes this kind of stir fry earlier, I had never got around to make it this way.

I made only one change as far as the ingredients are concerned. I have a dry red chilli in the seasoning instead of the green chilli in the original recipe.

French Beans Stir Fry

Serves 2


  • 2 cups French Beans, chopped
  • 1 tblsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp Chana Dal
  • 1 tsp Urad Dal
  • 1-2 Dry Red Chillies (Depending upon the spice level)
  • 1 pinch of Turmeric powder
  • 2-3 tblsp Grated fresh coconut
  • 1-2 tblsp Fresh Coriander, finely chopped
  • Salt

Method: Boil the French beans or cook them in the microwave for about 7-8 minutes.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the Mustard seeds, Chana Dal and Urad Dal. As the mustard seeds start to splutter add the red chilli.

Next, add the cooked beans along with the turmeric powder, grated coconut, salt and the chopped coriander. Mix well and let this cook on medium flame for about 3-4 minutes and its ready.

Serve this along with Roti or as a side for Rice dishes. Since this bhaji does not contain onions or garlic, it can also form a part of the Naivedya thali.

Indian cooking can not get simpler than this!

PS: I am having some problems with the camera so I couldnt take any pictures, but I will update this post as soon as I have, the next time I make this.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Roasted Pepper and Houmous Sandwich

Ok, first of all it does feel a bit weird to be back after such a long time. Weird and good at the same time. I was missing this for sure but did not seem to have any time at all for writing here. Even after I did manage to have some time, it was all spent in thinking about how to make the ‘comeback’. The first thought was an elaborate and grand dish to mark my return to the blog. But then I remembered what a friend once commented when I had made these sandwiches for the evening tea. Its very simple to get hold of elaborate complex recipes, there are a lot of sources for that. But what is more important and helpful, is to know about such simple, quick and easy to make dishes, with ingredients not too difficult to obtain but provide you with that much needed change in taste. Err.. she did not really use such a complex sentence but this was the gist of what she said.

So here it is. A simple sandwich, yet filling and delicious. Coming to each component of the sandwich, lets tackle the Hummus first and start with how it is spelt. It can be spelt both ways. So thats one confusion cleared. Now a very important question – home made or shop bought? While ‘ Home made is the best’ holds true for majority of the things, I somehow tend to deviate from this when it comes to houmous. I do have reasons for it and convenience tops the list. Most of the days, I make this sandwich for packed lunches in the morning and it is quite difficult for me to make fresh houmous at that time with so many other things to take care of. I know it can be made in advance and stored in the fridge but, I am not very comfortable with home made things (without anything to preserve them) being stored and then used. Another strong reason is that we have managed to locate the perfect houmous which tastes authentic and suits our taste buds perfectly. If you are in UK, you must at least once try the Tesco Organic Houmous, without any added flavours. We have tried various other brands but we find that this is the best.

I must mention something about houmous itself here. When I was first introduced to this ‘dip’, some 3 years back, I could not understand what all the hype was about. The husband wouldn't stop drooling over it and even the blog world seemed to have taken to it. All I could taste was a bit of sesame, some garlic and on rare occasions, chickpeas. To be fair, they are the main ingredients anyway. But the point is it seemed a bit bland to me at the beginning, with my taste buds used to tangy chaat, hot & flavoursome Punjabi food, fiery Maharashtrian/North Karnataka food (Misal, Jhunka etc) and the spicy Indo-Chinese, not to forget the red chilli tempered South Indian dishes (Sambhar, Puliogre and the likes). But this Middle East delicacy caught up with me and I found that some combinations with this dip are hard to beat.

One such combination is Roasted Peppers and Houmous. Now, again roasted Peppers can be home made or shop bought and I am still trying to decide which is preferable. The only thing that tips it towards the home made version is the presence of a huge amount of oil in the shop bought ones. Of course they are meant to preserve the peppers and I always drain it away before using them but it still makes a difference to me. Again convenience sometimes demands that I use the shop bought ones, but making them at home is also fairly simple. I have already mentioned the process in detail here (See step (a) and (b) of the recipe). You can use any Peppers but Red & Yellow peppers taste the best because of their slight sweetness.

Roasted Pepper and Houmous Sandwich

Picture 024

Makes 4 Sandwiches


  • 4 Slices of Whole wheat Bread (This works the best, but you can have white bread too)
  • About 1/2 cup Houmous
  • 2 small to medium Red/Yellow peppers, roasted (If using shop bought, you need about 1 cup of pepper pieces)
  • 1-2 Tblsp Black Olives (Optional)

There really is no recipe for this, all you have to do is assemble the sandwich now.

Take a slice of bread and generously spread houmous on it. Top it with a few roasted peppers and some of the olives (if using). Spread houmous on another slice and and top the sandwich. Cut into triangles. Repeat with the other two bread slices.

Thats it! As simple as it can get. Olives are completely optional, I personally dont have them in mine but the salty olives compliment the sweet peppers very well.

This Sandwich is on its way to the Sandwich Mela and just in time too!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Testing the waters…

Picture 920


I know it has been a really long gap, far too much in fact. How do you get back after such a long time? I wanted to come back with a fabulous looking, delicious sounding recipe but that will be taking the readers for granted. How can I expect them to be still around when I, the ‘host’, was no where to be seen for nearly 3 months!

So the purpose of this post is to first of all apologise to everyone who has been regularly checking this space for updates. Apart from that this post also comes to tell you that I am still very much here, although life (read kid, job and other such ‘normal’ activities!) has tried its hardest to steer me away from the blog. I do have a lot of recipes and things to share with you, so I am hoping to see you back here regularly, which in turn means that I will post regularly!

While you are still checking out those cakes from the earlier posts, I thought changing the scenery here at Taste Buds might set us in the mood for things to come!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Fresh Fruit Genoese (Day 7 – BM#4)

It seems like only a few days back that I had held little Shreya in my hands and she had looked back with her large beautiful eyes, as if to ask – where am I and what is happening? It must have been a few days back when she started her nursery and I was so apprehensive about how she would take it. My fears were put to rest when she happily hopped inside the nursery, leaving me a with tears rather than her crying for her mummy!  Time certainly has flown by and my little princess is going to be 4 yrs next month.

If I can feel that for 4 long years, 7 days have definitely disappeared without any sign, except of course the posts on this blog! Today is the final day of the blogging marathon and I have mixed feelings. I am happy I completed the marathon, without missing any post, an achievement in itself, if you ask me. I am also a little sad thinking that I would really miss this excitement. I hope I will be able to participate in similar marathons again.

As they say, save the best for the last, so it is here. Today’s cake is another favourite for Birthdays. If it isn't Black Forest, it has to be the Fresh Fruit, fresh cream cake which looks so elegant, you sometimes dont want to cut it at all! The whipped cream filling and topping has been my favourite of this cake but the fruits also form an integral part and most often have to be reserved while the cake is being cut. ‘ Give me apiece with strawberry’ or ‘I want the one with cherries’ are some things you would definitely hear when this cake is being cut. Picking out a particular fruit is also not unheard of and all this add on to the excitement of the Birthday.


Fresh Fruit Genoese


Picture 042

Makes one 7” Round Cake


For the Cake

  • 1 1/2 Cups Plain Flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Caster Sugar
  • 6-8 tblsp Orange Juice

For the filling and Topping

  • 2 1/2 Cups Double Cream (Whipping)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3-4 Tblsp Sugar
  • 1 cup Mixed Fruits such as strawberry, Kiwi, grapes, Pineapple, cherries, roughly sliced (Or Mixed Fruit Jam). Reserve some whole fruits for decoration
  • 1/2 Cup Pistachio, roughly chopped

Method: Pre Heat the oven to 180 deg C. Grease and line a 7” Round Cake tin and keep it ready.

In a bowl beat together the eggs and the sugar until thick and pale, the whisk should leave a trail as it is lifted.

Sift in the flour and the salt into this and gently fold to mix, making sure there are no lumps remaining. Pour this batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool in the tin for 5-7 minutes and then transfer it to a wire rack to cool down completely.

Once the cake is completely cold, cut it horizontally into 3 layers and whisk together the double cream, vanilla extract and sugar till it holds soft peaks.

Place the bottom most layer on a cake board or serving plate. Sprinkle some of the orange juice on this to make it moist. If you are using the mixed fruit jam instead of fresh fruits, spread it over the layer now and follow it up with the cream. If you are using fresh fruits, spread the cream on the layer first and then place some of the sliced fruits on to it. Place the middle layer of cake over this and sprinkle some orange juice on this too. Follow the above procedure once more and finish with the top layer.

Spread the remaining cream on the top and sides of the cake to cover it completely. Decorate with the reserved fruits and press on the roughly chopped pistachio on the sides of the cake. Chill in the fridge and serve.

Picture 047


My Notes: Absolutely delicious! I could not believe how simple it was to make and the end result was so luxurious. Even if you are not very good with cake decoration, you can just arrange the fruits on the top and it would still look fabulous, thats what I have done essentially here, anyway.  The Pistachio also help to cover any imperfections on the side of the cake and look so stunning against the pure white of the cream.

As I have mentioned, you can either use fresh fruits as a filling between the layers or Mixed fruit or any other fruit jam. I would recommend the jam if you are making the cake a day ahead or if you think the cake will not be finished within a day (This cake has to be stored in the fridge and finished within 2 days). The reason being that if you use fresh fruit, they get squashed with time, and thats not very pretty. The jam would serve almost the same purpose and look neater and would be easier to handle. Most shop bought cakes have jam in the filling and fresh fruits are only used for decoration!

Check out what my Blogging Marathoners are doing (BM#4 hosted by Srivalli)

Diabetes Diet/Management: PJ

Kid Friendly Recipes: Suma, Priya Suresh, Divya

Seven Days of Soup:Ila, Smita P

Seven Days of Indian Bread: Monika,

30 Minutes Meals: Archana

Seven days of Condiment: Kamalika, Srivalli

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Orange Victoria Sponge Cake (Day 6 – BM#4)

Another classic today but with a slight twist. The Victoria Sponge cake was named after Queen Victoria and traditionally consists of layers of cake sandwiched together with raspberry Jam and whipped cream. The whipped cream is a must, otherwise it is just a jam sponge cake and Not A Victoria Sponge Cake! Read more about it here.

The twist in my cake came from a book which has recipes specifically for an English afternoon tea. Afternoon Tea also known as Low Tea is typically had between 3pm and 5pm and consists of a light meal along with the tea of course. Sandwiches, Scones, cakes, pastries etc constitute the light meal and an elaborate Tea will have a whole lot of choice of these food items. Apart from being delicious, presenting them well so that they look pleasing to the eye, is also a main criteria when choosing dishes for the afternoon tea.

Here the traditional Victoria Sponge Cake is given a makeover to taste different as well as to look great. Instead of Raspberry Jam, Orange Marmalade is used. I have made some changes to the original recipe and putting that here.

Orange Victoria Sponge Cake

Picture 106


Makes one 7” Round Cake (Adapted from Afternoon Tea)


For the Cake

  • 3/4 Cup Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups Self Raising Flour
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

For the filling

  • 1 cup Orange Marmalade
  • 1 cup Double cream
  • 1 tblsp sugar

2 Tblsp Icing Sugar (For Dusting)

Method: Pre Heat the Oven to 160 deg C. Grease and line a 7” Round tin.

Whisk together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition.Stir in some of the milk and then follow it up with half the flour. Mix well. Repeat again ending with the flour. Mix well so that there are no lumps.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the pre heated oven for about 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean with just a few crumbs.

Take the cake out of the oven, turn it on to a wire rack and allow it to cool down completely.

Meanwhile gently warm the marmalade so that it is a little easier to spread on to the cake. Beat the Cream and the sugar in a bowl till it holds soft peaks.

Once the cake has cooled completely, cut it horizontally into two (or three). Place the bottom layer on the serving plate. Spread the marmalade onto this generously and follow it up with the whipped cream. Continue with the next layer if you have more than 2 layers. Place the top layer on the cream and press lightly to hold it in place. Dust with Icing Sugar and serve.

My Notes: This was a good change from the original Raspberry Jam. The Orange Marmalade tastes great along with the slightly sweet cream. Make sure that you dont heat the Marmalade too much, otherwise it can start getting a little bitter.

Also You can save some of the whipped cream and coat the whole cake with it instead of dusting with the icing sugar.

Check out what my fellow Blogging Marathoners are doing (BM#4 hosted by Srivalli)

Diabetes Diet/Management: PJ

Kid Friendly Recipes: Suma, Priya Suresh, Divya

Seven Days of Soup:Ila, Smita P

Seven Days of Indian Bread: Monika,

30 Minutes Meals: Archana

Seven days of Condiment: Kamalika, Srivalli

Friday, 15 April 2011

Espresso Coffee Cake (Day 5 – BM#4)

When I started taking baking seriously, there was one blog that I regularly visited for ideas and inspiration.Deeba’s Passionate About Baking still remains one of my favourite sites whenever I want to refer something for baking. The lovely pictures and well written recipes have helped me a lot and some of the recipes have stuck with me as regulars.

This Coffee cake was one of the earliest ‘decorated’ cakes that I started to make. A simple yet beautiful cake, it was a treat for some one like me who liked coffee so much. Although initially I was concerned about the bitter coffee taste in the sweet cake, it turned out to be a very good combination, the best part being that the cake just has the flavour of coffee without being overpowered by it. It could easily be converted into chocolate cake by substituting the coffee granules with either cocoa or even melted chocolate, but really there is no need. Even though I am a chocolate lover, I would prefer this cake with the coffee flavour in it.


Espresso Coffee Cake

Picture 062


Makes one 7” round cake (Adapted from Passionate About Baking)


For the cake

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/4 Cup Caster Sugar
  • 1 1/4 Cup Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tblsp Instant Coffee (I used Nescafe, any other would also do)

For the Filling and Topping

  • 500 ml Double Cream (Whipping cream)
  • 2-3 Tblsp Sugar
  • 1.5 tsp Instant Coffee (Less if you want the coffee to be very subtle)
  • Chocolate (1-2 tblsp grated and some melted), to decorate (optional)


Method: Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C. Grease and line a 7” Round Cake tin.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and the salt and keep aside.

In a bowl combine the eggs and the sugar and whisk until the mixture turns pale and fluffy, leaving trails when lift the whisk.

Add the vanilla extract and mix. Dissolve the instant coffee in 1 Tblsp of warm water and then add it to the mixture and mix well.

Now add the flour mixture and fold gently until there are no lumps.

Pour this batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Once the cake is done, take it out of the oven, leave in the pan to cool for about 5 minutes and then remove it onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cake is completely cooled, prepare the filling and the topping. To do that, combine the cream, sugar and the instant coffee (dissolved in 1 tsp of water) together and whisk until soft peaks are formed. The coffee will give it a nice beige colour.

Now cut the cooled cake horizontally into two. Place the bottom portion on to a cake board or serving plate. spread 1/3 of the cream onto this. Place the other half of the cake and cover the top and the sides with the remaining cream. decorate with the grated chocolate. The melted chocolate can be used to make patterns on the cake for decoration.

My Notes: Again a very simple to make but delicious looking cake. You can cut the cake into 3  or 4 parts to have more layers sandwiched with the cream filling. You might need to use a smaller deeper pan to make the cake so as to make these layers.

I have used the grated chocolate to decorate the cake. Chocolate curls or caraque can also be used. I have also melted some milk chocolate to create a random pattern on the cake.

Blogging Marathoners (BM#4 hosted by Srivalli)

Diabetes Diet/Management: PJ

Kid Friendly Recipes: Suma, Priya Suresh, Divya

Seven Days of Soup:Ila, Smita P

Seven Days of Indian Bread: Monika,

30 Minutes Meals: Archana

Seven days of Condiment: Kamalika, Srivalli

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Carrot Cake (Day 4 – BM#4)

This is the fourth day of the Blogging Marathon, so we are halfway through. I am already feeling great about having done this as I have come back to regular blogging and also writing about baking, which I am very fond of. Also my cakes are getting a chance to see the light of the day and that is very good.

Today’s cake is a classic recipe and one that I  had not tried for a long time because I thought that it would be a weird combination having carrots in a cake. Yes, although this cake is an internationally accepted classic, I wasnt convinced about the combination. I only recently started making this and the first  time was because I had run out of options for a simple cake and had lots of carrots in the fridge!

It turned out to be very good and made me realise why its counted amongst the classic ones. You can make it as a simple cake, top with cream cheese frosting or like in this case, cover it with glaze icing.

Carrot Cake

Picture 276


Makes one 8” square cake


For the cake

  • 1.25 cups Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup Soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100 ml Sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup Carrot, finely grated
  • 2 tblsp Chopped walnuts
  • a pinch of salt
  • Butter for greasing

For the glace icing

  • 1/2 – 1 cup Icing Sugar
  • 1-2 tblsp Water (or lemon juice)

Method: Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C. Grease an 8” swuare cake pan. Sprinkle some plain flour and then tap the pan to get rid of the excess flour so that there is a coating on the pan too. This will help to prevent the cake sticking to the pan once it is baked. Alternatively grease and line the tin with baking paper.

Sift the flour, salt and cinnamon into a bowl. Add the brown sugar and stir to mix.

Add the eggs and oil and mix. Stir in the carrots and chopped walnuts. Pour this mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the pre heated oven for about 20-25 minutes. Check if the cake is completely cooked and once done, leave it in the pan to cool for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack.

To make the glace icing, sift the icing sugar and add the water drop by drop, stirring in between. Stop adding water once the desired consistency is reached. You can make it quite thick so as to spread the cake or a runny one to lightly coat the cake.

Pour the icing over the cake and let the excess icing fall down over the sides. Cut into bars and serve.

Picture 258

My Notes: The cake tastes great just on its own and the glace icing adds that extra sweetness to it. I would recommend using the lemon juice for the icing instread of plain water. Also this cake can serve as a base for an elaborate cake with buttercream icing.

The addition of water (or lemon juice) to the icing sugar has to be done very carefully as a just one or two drops go a long way in this case. Once you add a few drops, stop adding water and mix it well and give it sometime to reach its actual consistency and then decide if you need any more water. As you can see from the picture above, my icing was quite runny and I would have preferred a slightly thicker one.

Also, dont leave out the chopped walnuts, they are very good to bite in every now & then.


Check out what the other Blogging Marathoners are doing (BM#4 hosted by Srivalli)

Diabetes Diet/Management: PJ

Kid Friendly Recipes: Suma, Priya Suresh, Divya

Seven Days of Soup:Ila, Smita P

Seven Days of Indian Bread: Monika,

30 Minutes Meals: Archana

Seven days of Condiment: Kamalika, Srivalli

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

White Chocolate Truffle Cake (Day 3 – BM#4)

The Easter Holidays have started and the biggest task on hand is to keep Shreya occupied constructively. By that I mean not allowing her to sit in front of the TV for the whole day but at the same keep her entertained. Catching up with her other friends is taking us out of home for most of the days but on days when we are not meeting any one, it is quite difficult. Story – reading, play dough, colouring, crafts, blocks etc notwithstanding, there comes a time when both of us dont know what to do. What do you do to keep your children occupied during the holidays?

By evening 6 pm I myself need some change and so I put on the TV to watch a quiz program called Eggheads on BBC. S is also quite interested in it although she doesnt really understand the questions or the answers for that matter. she keeps asking what the host is saying and I have to explain everything to her. She is so much ‘into’ this now that when we guess something (mainly her clues about animals, birds, fruits or vegetables) wrong, she quickly says in that typical tone ‘ I am afraid thats the wrong answer, you cant play in the final round!’

Another thing that we do during holidays is bake either cakes or cookies. Her favourite, needless to say, is the Chocolate cake. In fact there was a phase when I used to bake only chocolate cakes because we all like it so much. But then we wanted a change but somehow could not let go of the chocolate part and luckily I found this recipe which is now a regular. I have made it as Shreya’s Birthday cake last year and bake it everytime we are in the mood for something special.

If you want something looking luxurious and tasting likewise but without the complications associated with making it, this one is for you. It is so simple to make that when I had made it for the first time, I was sure that I must have left out something from the recipe!

The recipe calls for a Springform pan to be used for the cake and it is a must in this cake. I generally used to substitute the springform with whatever pan I had at home but I have now got a Springform pan which I bought specifically for this cake and it is totally worth it.

White Chocolate Truffle Cake

Picture 152


Makes one 8” round cake


For the cake

  • 50 gm White Chocolate
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Caster Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Plain flour
  • Butter for greasing

For the Truffle topping

  • 300 ml Double Cream
  • 350 gm White Chocolate
  • 250 gm Mascarpone Cheese
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

Method: Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C. Grease and line the base of an 8” Springform pan.

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. To do this, fill a saucepan with water so that it comes up to about one fourth of the saucepan. Bring this to boil. Once boiling reduce the flame and let it simmer. Place a heat proof bowl over this sauce pan so that it fits on the rim but doesnt touch the boiling water. Place the chocolate broken into pieces in the heat proof bowl and stir as the heat from the boiling water in the saucepan will melt the chocolate. Keep aside.

In a bowl whisk together the eggs and the caster sugar until pale and slightly thick. When you lift the whisk, it should form ribbons and leave a trail. Sift the flour onto this and gently fold it in until there are no lumps left. Add the melted chocolate and combine. Pour this batter into the prepared tin and bake in the pre heated oven for about 25 minutes or until done.

Once the cake is taken out of the oven, allow it to cool in the pan for 3-4 minutes and then turn it over onto a wire rack to cool down completely.

To make the topping, bring the double cream to boil in a saucepan, stirring in between. Switch off the heat and then add the white chocolate and mix until the chocolate is completely melted. Leave this aside to cool completely. Now add the mascarpone cheese and mix.

Now return the cold cake to the springform tin and pour the topping over it. This will form a layer of almost the thickness of the cake. Keep this in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours to set.

To serve, use a sharp knife to get the cake free from the edges of the pan and then remove the base and loosen the pan to get the cake out.

To decorate, lightly dust cocoa powder all over the cake just before serving. You can also use stencils to make shapes. Alternatively decorate by placing chocolate curls in the middle of the cake.

My Notes: This is a melt in the mouth kind of cake and it will take a very strong resolve to stop at the first slice/helping!  As I have mentioned at the beginning of the post, the springform pan is an absolute necessity for this cake. This is because the topping is quite liquid when it is poured on to the cake and the springform pan can hold it there while it sets. It is also easier to remove the cake from a springform pan after the topping is set.

Picture 1416

This is the Birthday cake that I made for Shreya last year using this recipe. The flower on the cake is made with fresh cream (whipped), with added colours.

You can try this cake with Milk chocolate instead of white chocolate and it should turn out great and you will like it especially if you are a chocolate fan like me!


Here is what my fellow Blogging Marathoners are doing (BM#4 hosted by Srivalli)

 Diabetes Diet/Management: PJ

Kid Friendly Recipes: Suma, Priya Suresh, Divya

Seven Days of Soup:Ila, Smita P

Seven Days of Indian Bread: Monika,

30 Minutes Meals: Archana

Seven days of Condiment: Kamalika, Srivalli

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Eggless Marble Cake (Day 2 – BM#4)

Continuing on with the Cake fest, I have an eggless one in this post. Although I have made eggless cakes earlier (Date & Walnut), this was different because unlike the earlier ones, this is not a dense cake. You can hardly make out that there are no eggs here.

The original basic recipe is from Divine taste, which was for a Golden Yellow cake. I have adapted it to make a marble cake. The picture in the original post was tempting enough for me to try this but I was in the mood for a chocolate cake, so I ended up making this to have both!

Now, as I have mentioned earlier in a number of posts about my impatience to try a recipe, in this case too I rushed into things and did not pay attention to the fact that the Corn flour was to be added to the milk and then mixed with the flour mixture. I sieved it along with the plain flour and then realised my mistake. I went ahead anyway and was not disappointed with the result. So I am maintaining that in the recipe below but I will try it the right way next time and update this space if I find any difference to the end result.


Eggless Marble Cake

Picture 1391


Makes 2 Nos of 7” Square cakes


  • 2 cups milk
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract + 1 tsp
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 3 cups Plain flour
  • 1 cup Corn flour
  • 4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Cup unsweetened Cocoa
  • 2-3 drops of yellow colour (optional)



Pre Heat the oven to 160 deg C. Grease and line two 7” Square cake Pans and keep aside.

Warm the milk gently. Dissolve the sugar in this and let it cool down a bit. Now add the butter and the vanilla extract and whisk to mix properly.

In a separate bowl, sieve together the plain flour, corn flour, baking powder and the baking soda.

Make a well in the dry mixture and add the milk-sugar mixture. Stir to mix gently until properly mixed and there are no lumps.

Remove half of this batter in another bowl. Mix the cocoa with 2-3 tblsp (as reqd) of hot water. Add this paste to one half of the batter and fold in to mix.

To the other half add another tsp of Vanilla extract and the yellow colour, if using. Mix well.

Now, alternate spoonfuls of both the batters in the lined pans i.e. add a spoonful of the plain batter and then follow it up with the cocoa batter and then the plain batter again. Carry on doing this till you use up all the batter. Now swirl the batter randomly using a toothpick to create a pattern.

Picture 116 Picture 120


Bake the cakes in the pre heated oven for about 45-50 min. The time will depend upon the oven. Check for the cake to be cooked after 45 minutes by inserting a toothpick in the centre. If it comes out clean with just a few crumbs clinging on it, the cake is done.

Take the cakes out of the oven and let them cool in the pan for a couple of minutes. Then take them out on a wire rack and let them cool completely. This cake can be stored in a air tight container for about 2-3 days.

My Notes: As I have mentioned, this was a very good ‘eggless’ experience. This cake can be had just like that, served with custard to make a complete dessert or it could serve as a base cake for more elaborate iced cakes. I think a buttercream frosting would go great with this one.

Check out what the other Blogging Marathoners are doing (BM#4 hosted by Srivalli)

 Diabetes Diet/Management: PJ

Kid Friendly Recipes: Suma, Priya Suresh, Divya

Seven Days of Soup:Ila, Smita P

Seven Days of Indian Bread: Monika,

30 Minutes Meals: Archana

Seven days of Condiment: Kamalika, Srivalli

Monday, 11 April 2011

Black Forest Cake (Day 1 – BM#4)

Today I am embarking on my first blogging Marathon. I will be posting every day for the whole week, which is a huge feat in itself for me, considering how my posts appear in bursts on this blog, more so because of my new job nowadays. As if life was not hectic enough, I now work half days and somehow try to manage all other things in the other half. I am now in complete awe of all you ladies who manage a full time career with kids!

Coming back to the blogging marathon, my chosen theme is ‘Seven Days of Cakes’. Now thats another ‘new’ for this blog. Although I bake every other day and make cakes almost every week, this blog is yet to see most of my creations. That is one of the major reasons that I chose this theme. This will ensure that I post all those lovely cakes that I have tried and have been making regularly.

I start off the week with Black forest Cake, which for us, is synonymous with a Birthday cake. This is our favourite cake when asked to choose, just like so many other people I am sure. Back in India, planning for a Birthday either meant ordering a big Black Forest cake (if we were expecting a lot of people for the party) or picking up a 1/2 Kg cake on the way back home in the evening (when the celebration was restricted to the immediate family). And more often than not, Monginis would be the chosen bakery, for the major reason that it was conveniently located.

Once I started baking, I tried to re create this at home and it took around 2-3 attempts to get it exactly the way it should be. Moist, chocolaty and with lots of fresh whipped cream. The recipe for the basic cake has been adapted from Meeta’s Chocolate cake, which has never let me down till date, whenever I have used it as a base for Iced cakes or even when I have been in the mood for Chocolate indulgence. The rest I have settled on after trying out a couple of things. But really once you have the chocolate cake, most of the job is done and all you need to do is put together the cream and other things.


Black Forest Cake

Picture 078



For the chocolate cake

  • 1.5 cups Plain Flour
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup Butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2-3/4 Sugar (Increase if you want the cake sweeter)
  • 2.5 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 80 gm Cherry/Blackberry preserve (I sometimes skip this)
  • Milk (About 250 ml)

For the Filling and topping

  • 300 ml Double cream (or whipping cream)
  • 3-4 tblsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Can of Black Cherries in juice
  • 1 cup grated chocolate (or chocolate shavings)



Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C. Grease and line 6” Square Pan (or 6”-7” round )

Cream together the butter & sugar till completely mixed and looks light & fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, keep whisking/mixing after each addition till it is mixed well. Mix vanilla extract & the preserve.

Sieve in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and the cocoa powder into this butter-sugar mixture. Pour in the milk & mix gently. Pour the batter in the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. The baking time depends upon your oven.

Once it is cooked through (check by inserting a tooth pick, if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked), take it out of the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. then turn it onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Once the cake is completely cooled, cut it horizontally into two & keep the bottom portion on a serving plate or a cake board and reserve the other half. 

Now to make the filling, add the sugar & vanilla essence to the double cream and whisk till it starts to thicken and you get soft peaks when you lift the whisk. Chop the pitted cherries from the can roughly and keep aside. Reserve some (about7-8) whole cherries for decoration.

Sprinkle the bottom part of the cake, placed on the serving plate,  with some of the juice from the cherry can & spread about 1/3 of the cream on it, taking care not to spill out too much on the sides.

Then place the chopped cherries on this and top it with the other half of the cake. Before placing it, sprinkle some juice on this half too.

Now spread the remaining cream on the top and sides of the cake, completely covering it. To get a neat and crumb free look, cover the cake roughly and chill in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. This will ‘set’ the first coat of the cream and will prevent the crumbs from sticking out. Once it is chilled top it again with the remaining cream and give a generous coating to completely cover it.

Cover the sides with grated chocolate and decorate some more with whipped cream & the reserved cherries.

My Notes: As I have mentioned, the chocolate cake gives it a very good base and the cream filling & topping makes it really delicious and hard to resist. And of course you have the satisfaction of having made it at home!

Check out what my other Blogging Marathoners are doing (BM#4 hosted by Srivalli)

Diabetes Diet/Management: PJ  

Kid Friendly Recipes: Suma, Priya Suresh, Divya

Seven Days of Soup:Ila, Smita P 

Seven Days of Indian Bread: Monika,

30 Minutes Meals: Archana  

Seven days of Condiment: Kamalika, Srivalli

Friday, 1 April 2011

Beans and Potato stir fry

I know, it has been a long gap again. I know I promised myself and my readers that I will post more regularly. I know I keep going back on this promise. But what can I say – life does that to you. Things have been really hectic (as if they weren't before)! I am now juggling a job in addition to the ‘normal’ things – raising a 3 (almost 4) year old, managing everything else that comes as a package with a house (read cooking, cleaning, washing etc) and not to forget the Birthday parties.

Birthday parties – now thats something I have to talk about in this post. The main reason being that we attend so many of them. I dont know what is more exciting for Shreya, the idea of going to a party, meeting all her friends, seeing the Birthday cake, giving the Birthday present or getting a return gift. I am sure its not eating party food, not even the Birthday cake. While she gets excited when it is being cut & exclaims on the ‘prettiness’ of it, she hardly eats it. The same goes for almost every kid. They are excited but there is no specific reason or thing that they are excited about. Ask them and you will get a different answer each time, ranging from ‘playing with friends’ to ‘getting the return gift’.

I would really like to know how and why the idea of return gift came to be associated with kids’ Birthday parties. Was it devised so that the other kids dont feel left out as the Birthday kid was getting lots of gifts? Was it to make sure that the Birthday kid appreciates that his/her friends made the effort to come to the party? Whatever the reason might be, the kids look forward to this almost more than the party itself. It doesnt matter what you give them. It can be as little as a goodie bag filled with insignificant (by adults standard!) things such as a chocolate, a key chain, plastic bangles/bracelet, stickers, a tiny toy etc or it could be a large box neatly gift wrapped just like the birthday present they had got for the Birthday boy/girl. The kids are just happy to get ‘something’. It has become so much of a norm that S expects a return gift everytime she goes out to someone’s house even for get together and it becomes difficult to explain to her that grown ups dont exchange gifts or return gifts with the same fervour!

So there we are, seems like I have come up with a brand new excuse for not posting regularly here. Yeah, blame it on the kids! But today I am posting a recipe and a fairly simple one at that. This is a regular part of our meal and gets ready in no time.


Beans and Potato Stir fry

Picture 158


Serves 2


  • 2 cups String Beans (French Beans), chopped
  • 1 medium sized Potato, small cubes
  • 1/2 tblsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 6-8 Curry Leaves
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 medium Tomato, chopped (Optional)
  • 1-2 tsp Goda Masala
  • 1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • Salt


Heat the oil in a pan. Once hot add the mustard seeds and allow them to splutter.

Add the Curry leaves, asafoetida and the Turmeric Powder followed by the potato cubes. Fry for about 2-3 minutes.

Now add the chopped beans and mix well. Sauté for about 2 minutes.

Next, add in the tomatoes along with the salt, Goda Masala and the chilli powder. Mix well to coat the beans and potato with the spices.

Reduce the flame, cover the pan and let it cook for about 10-15 minutes. Keep stirring in between to avoid burning. Switch off the heat once the potato & beans are completely cooked. Serve hot with Chapati.

My Notes: This is a dry preparation and cooks in its own steam, also the tomatoes let out water and that helps. However if you dont add tomatoes, you might have to sprinkle some water to prevent the ‘sabji’ sticking to the pan.

If you dont have Goda Masala, you can use any other spices such as Garam Masala, a mixture of Dhaniya-Jeera Powder (Coriander-Cumin powder), sambhar powder etc. It will work well with any of these with a change in the taste of course.

This is a favourite for lunch box, since it is a dry sabji and tastes good even when its not piping hot!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Whole-wheat Almond Cookies (Eggless)

If you are looking for something very delicious but dont want to spend too much time making it and want it to be as simple as possible, then these cookies are for you. This month’s Sweet Punch sounded too good to be true and even turned out that way. I couldnt believe that the cookies could be so good after the minimum amount of time & efforts it had taken. But they were absolutely perfect with the right amount of crunch.

I have already made these twice since the challenge was announced, they were that good. I even doubled the quantity the second time I made them since they had disappeared in no time when I had made using the original recipe, which was chosen from Manjula’s Kitchen.

Although some of the members found them to be a little sweeter than required, they were perfect for me, not too sweet at all. It might have something to do with the kind of sugar, I used Caster sugar. The recipe did not specify the type of sugar to be used but I feel that it would help if the sugar is not very granular. If you have bigger granules in the sugar, coarsely powder it by pulsing it in a mixer.


Whole-wheat Almond Cookies (Eggless)

Picture 187


Makes about 35

  • 2 Cups Whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup Butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup Caster Sugar
  • 2-3 tblsp Milk (Or as required)
  • 1/2 tsp Cardamom Powder
  • 1/2 cup Almond Slivers (Optionally some more for decorating)


Pre Heat the oven to 180 deg C. Keep your baking sheet ready, no need to grease it.

Mix together the flour, sugar, cardamom powder and the almond in a bowl. Now add the butter and mix well to make a dough. Add 1-2 tblsp of Milk if required to gather the dough together. I didn't need to do this.

Now pinch off lemon sized portions and roll them between your palms and then flatten them slightly to shape them. Keep these on the baking sheet and lightly press an Almond sliver on each cookie to decorate. Bake the cookies for about 15-18 minutes in the preheated oven.

Once the cookies start to turn brown on the edges, take them out of the oven and let them cool on the sheet for 2-3 minutes, then shift them to a wire rack to cool down completely. Store them in air tight containers.

My Notes:  As mentioned earlier, they were just perfect! The Cardamom flavour came across very nicely and I loved the aroma that filled not only the kitchen but also the whole house as these cookies were baking.

I feel that some flavours like Saffron will also go very well with these cookies and will be definitely trying that the next time I make them.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Chilli Paneer

Eating out for little Shreya invariably means having Chilli Paneer. She is a die hard fan of the dish and no matter how spicy it might be she relishes it, without so much as a thought to the other food items on the table. She can actually eat ‘only’ Chilli Paneer as her lunch or dinner or even breakfast for that matter! Weekends are usually spent in one of the Indian restaurant here where we get good Chilli Paneer or otherwise convincing her that it is not possible to eat out at that same restaurant every week. In fact there was a time when we would order the dish for her, no matter which restaurant we went to. But she is very particular about the taste and soon tired of the bland and different Chilli Paneer at other places.

The only other solution was to make it at home, which I started doing since last year. If you are used to making the Indo-Chinese dishes at home, this is no different, its very simple really. But the lure of the restaurant Chilli Paneer is too much even for us sometimes!

The recipe here makes Dry Chilli Paneer, but it can be made into a gravy as well to go with rice or noodles. See notes for the variation.

This is on its way to Kid’s Delight – Restaurant Recreation being hosted by Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen, originally started by Srivalli at Spice your Life.


Chilli Paneer



  • 2 cups Paneer, cubed
  • 2 tblsp Corn flour + 1 tblsp
  • 1/2 tblsp Plain flour
  • Oil for frying + 1 tblsp oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 medium Green Pepper, Sliced
  • 2 Green Chillies, Slit lengthwise
  • 1 tsp Ginger, grated
  • 1.5 tsp Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tblsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tblsp Tomato Puree
  • Salt & Pepper


Mix together 2 tblsp Corn flour, plain flour & season with salt & pepper. Heat oil in a deep pan. Roll the Paneer cubes into the flour mixture and deep fry them till brown. There is no need to add water to make a batter as the moisture on the Paneer cubes is enough to hold the flour and this gives you crispy paneer pieces.

In a wok heat 1 tblsp oil, when hot fry the onion sliced. Add the slit chillies & ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes away.

Now add the pepper and fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the soy sauce and sauté some more. Season with salt & pepper, keeping in mind that the Soy Sauce is also salty.

Add about half a cup of water and let this come to boil.

Make a paste of 1 tblsp corn flour with a little water and add this to the gravy. Reduce the flame and keep stirring as it will start to thicken.

Add the tomato puree and ix well. Add the fried Paneer and mix well to coat. Heat through for a minute or two until the gravy reaches desired consistency and then turn off the heat.

Serve hot as a starter or if you go the gravy version it can be served as a side to Fried rice or noodles.

My Notes: This is as good as it can get. You can add some Spring Onion greens for garnish but I dont bother since I have to pick them out again for S!

If you want gravy instead of the dry version, add about 2 cups of water instead of half a cup and proceed in the same manner. Keep cooking till the gravy has thickened a bit but not too much and then switch off the heat and serve.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Gujarati Dal

This month’s Indian Cooking Challenge was very simple, as in simple to make and a very simple dish too. But as they say the good things in life are always simple, this Dal too turned out to be very good.

Every region in India has its own version of the Dal. Tadka Dal in the north, Amthi in Maharashtra, Saaru in Karnataka, Sambhar in the South and so on. The Gujrati version is a bit sweeter and has a whole lot of flavours, that of Kokum, spices and all the vegetables that you can put in it.

As always, I made it at the last minute and decided there and then that it wont be the last time that I make it. This gives a good change from the normal version of Dal that we are used to.

The recipe is from the Book Sukham Ayu, written by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain. Thanks a lot for sharing the recipe with us.

Gujrati Dal

Picture 134


For the Dal

  • 1/2 Toor dal
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 4-5 pieces of Dry Kokam / Tamarind pulp
  • 1 tsp Jaggery
  • 4 Hard dry dates (Kharik), halved – I didn't have this so skipped it.
  • 1 tbsp Groundnuts
  • 2 Green Chillies, slit
  • 1” Ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Garam Masala
  • Fresh Coriander leaves, chopped
  • Rock Salt
  • Vegetables such as drumstick, yam, cluster beans etc (I have skipped this)

For the tempering

  • 2 tsp Ghee
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1-2 dry red chillies (I used only one since the ones I have are very hot)
  • 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
  • 5-6 Curry Leaves


Cook the Dal along with turmeric till completely cooked and mushy. Mash the cooked Dal to give an almost smooth paste. Transfer it to a thick bottomed pan and bring to boil.

Add one cup of water along with all the ingredients listed for the dal except for the Garam Masala and Coriander leaves. Let the Dal simmer for about 10-15 minutes, keep stirring.

In a small kadai, prepare the tempering by heating the ghee and then spluttering the mustard seeds. Then add the fenugreek seeds. Reduce the heat and then add the rest of the ingredients for tempering.

Pour the tempering over the simmering Dal and mix well. Let it cook for 5 more minutes. Now add the Garam Masala and the coriander leaves and switch off the heat.

Serve hot as an accompaniment to Roti-Sabzi or with steamed rice for a comforting meal.

My Notes: Delicious Dal! S lapped it up with her Chapati & asked for more, and that in itself is a testimony. You can hardly expect a 3 yr old to appreciate something in a better way than that but then she went ahead and told me that the Dal was yummy!

Dont skip the Rock Salt, it really makes a huge difference to the taste.

I also didn't add any vegetables to the Dal. I would definitely like to try it with the vegetables next time, but this time we liked it just as it was.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Currant Slices with spiced Apple syrup

Having missed a few of the recent Sweet Punch challenges, I was determined to make it this time. The challenge itself for the month of February helped a lot because it was very simple. The end result though was absolutely delicious and provides me with a great option for dessert whenever we might have guests over.

There was however only one hitch. Since I got down to make it only at the last minute, I didn't have enough time and could not find black currants, which are supposed to be the main ingredients – after all they were supposed to be currant slices! But as I said I didn't want to miss out on the challenge, so I went ahead and substituted the currants with something that was readily available – Sultanas. This tells you more about both of them.

Currant (Sultana) Slices with spiced Apple syrup

Picture 074

Recipe Source: 1 Mix, 50 Cakes


  • 175 gm (1.15 cups) Black Currants (I used Sultanas)
  • 300 ml Apple Juice
  • 1” Cinnamon stick
  • 175 gm (1.75 cups) Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 175 gm (0.75 cup ) Butter
  • 175 gm (0.9 cup) Sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract



Mix together the apple juice, sultanas and the cinnamon stick in a saucepan and bring it to boil. Once it starts boiling, switch off the heat and let this mixture stand for a few hours. I left it for about 6-7 hours.

Once the waiting is over, strain the Sultanas, reserving the juice too. Press slightly on the Sultana to get the juice out. Pick out the cinnamon stick and add it to the reserved juice. Keep both the juice and the Sultanas aside.

Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C. Grease and flour a 12”x9” rectangular tin and keep ready.

Sift together the flour and the baking powder. Cream the butter and sugar together till it is pale yellow and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs and the vanilla extract and beat together. Now add the flour little by little and mix to get a smooth batter. Add half the reserved Sultanas and mix well. Spoon this mixture into the prepared tin and sprinkle the remaining Sultanas on the top.Bake in the pre heated oven for about 30 minutes until its cooked.

Picture 046

Take out of the oven and let it cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning it out on to a wire rack.

While the cake is cooling a bit, bring the reserved apple juice along with the cinnamon stick to a boil and continue to heat on high till it reaches a syrupy consistency.

Once done, discard the cinnamon.

Serve a warm slice of the cake along with the apple syrup spooned over it. Enjoy!

My Notes: This was as simple as it could get. I could put together everything in under 15-20 minutes once the Sultanas were soaked and ready.

I did find the batter to be a little on the dry side and at one point had to add a little milk to get it going, but once the cake was done I thought that it could have done without it too.

The tangy syrup and the tangy Sultanas were a good contrast to the sweet cake. I felt that it would be great with some custard too, will try that combination next time!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sabudana Khichdi

I have been itching to get back to the blog but there hasn't been much cooking going on these days because of health issues. We are having this Khichadi almost every day, not that we mind.

I am recovering now and so thought that I will get back to the one resolution I made this year, well not exactly a resolution but a change in the lifestyle you could say. Up until now I had never fasted, weekly or otherwise even though it is quite common in the household back home. One major reason is that I tend to have low blood sugar which makes it difficult for me to go without eating anything for a long time. The other reason being that I dont really believe in fasting for religious purposes, especially when you compensate by having a lot of other goodies.

And goodies they definitely are! All food items that can be consumed during a fast are invariably delicious. You could say this was part of the reason I finally decided to give it a go and will be trying to fast once a week. I had been doing this for 4 weeks before I fell ill and had to take a break. But I am getting back to it now mainly because I need a change from the normal routine food and look forward to savour the fasting goodies!

I call this the subdued version of ‘Sabudana Wada’ for the simple reason that the ingredients are almost the same but its not fried. As mentioned in my post for Sabudana Wada, the trick to making good Sabudana Khichdi is also soaking it right. Thats half your work done. all that remains is assembling and cooking.


Sabudana Khichdi

Picture 105

serves 2


  • 1 cup sabudana
  • 1 tblsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2-3 Green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 medium sized potato, boiled and roughly cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup –1/2 cup roasted peanut powder
  • salt


The first step of course is to soak the Sabudana. If you have the medium sized normal Sabudana you need to soak it for about 4-6 hours. If the the sabudana smaller in size, 20-30 minutes will be enough. Take the sabudana in a container and fill it with water so that the Sabudana is just immersed. Too much water will make it soggy while less water will mean dry sabudana.

Heat the oil in a kadai. Once hot, add the Cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Add the chillies and fry for a minute.

Now add the boiled potato pieces and mix well to coat them with the oil.

Mix the peanut powder and salt together with the soaked Sabudana. Add this mixture to the cooking potato and mix well. Reduce the flame, cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring in between to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the kadai. Serve hot.

My Notes:  The usual method of making sabudana Khichdi is to mix the soaked sabudana, boiled potato, peanut powder, salt and green chilli paste together and then adding this mix to the oil & cumin seeds. But I find that this sometimes results in a soggy khichdi because of the over handling of the boiled potatoes. So I prefer to do it this way.

Also you can use Ghee instead of oil for the tempering and sprinkle some grated coconut on the khichadi.