Friday 15 October 2010

Punjabi Kadhi Pakodi

This month’s Indian Cooking Challenge had us making a Punjabi Kadhi with the Pakodis (fritters). My association with Punjabi food has been a long one, as I have mentioned numerous times on this blog. Kadhi Pakodi is very special for me since it reminds me of my days in Delhi, which is where I was exposed to it for the first time as part of one of my classmate’s lunch box. Ever since it has stayed with me and whenever I crave for something homely at the same time delicious, I make Kadhi-Pakodi.

From the time I started cooking, I have made a lot of trials and errors to arrive at what I felt was the perfect recipe for Kadhi-Pakodi and have been making it regularly. As is true with any classic recipe, many people have their own version and I found that the recipe given for the challenge was slightly different from how I make it. Nevertheless I followed the recipe, originally by Simran of Bombay Foodie, since I wanted to try out a different option.


Punjabi Kadhi-Pakodi

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For the Pakodi

  • 1 cup Besan (Chickpea flour)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • Salt
  • Oil for deep frying

For the Kadhi

  • 1 Cup set yogurt (Dahi)
  • 1/3 cup Besan (Chickpea flour)
  • 1 tblsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Ajwain (Carom seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp Methi (Fenugreek)
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • Salt


To make the Pakodis, Mix together all the ingredients except for the oil. Using a little water , mix them all into a thick paste. Heat the oil and then drop spoonfuls of the mixture and fry them till brown and crisp. Drain on to a kitchen towel and keep aside.

To make the kadhi, mix together the yogurt and besan. Add approx 3-4 cups of water and whisk well. the final consistency should be a little thinner than the thick punjabi lassi but not too thin at the same time.

Add the oil in a deep pan and add the nustard, cumin, fenugreek and carom seeds. As they start spluttering, add the onion and fry for some time.  Then pour the Besan-Yogurt mixture and also add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt and mix well.

Bring this to boil and then simmer for about 20-30  minutes till the Besan is cooked and the Kadhi thickens. Now add the Pakodis and bring to boil again. Add the Garam Masala and Amchoor, mix well, heat through and then swicth off the heat.

Serve hot, ideally with rice but Rotis will do nicely.

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My Notes: The Kadhi was absolutely delicious, a bit different from what I make but a good change nevertheless. The only problem for me was that I found the quantity of Besan in the Kadhi to be a little too much. I might try reducing it next time.

To make a variation on the above or in other words to make my version of the Kadhi, make the following changes.

  • Use 3-4 tblsp of Besan instead of 1/3 cup for the Kadhi
  • Replace the cumin seeds with Fennel seeds
  • Add 1-2 dry red chillies to the hot oil when making Kadhi and skip the red chilli powder

PS: I know it might seem as if I am not on talking terms with any one here, what with the  ‘to the point’ posts and that too only for the regular events, but I will be back to post regularly very soon, I promise!

Thursday 7 October 2010

Molten Lava Cake

I cant believe how difficult it is to resume writing once you have had a long break from blogging, never mind that it was unintentional. There are no specific reasons for the lack of posts. Of course I had been cooking everyday during this time and some of the things I made definitely deserve to be mentioned here but somehow I didn't get around to it. As usual I will blame it on the hectic schedule. The daughter has started her nursery and is away for 3 hours everyday now, but I still dont seem to have the time to do what I want. Thank god for some events which jolt me back into realising that I need to take care of this blog in addition to numerous other things!

The Sweet Punch this time was really sweet and something I have wanted to bake for a long time. I seem to be saying this for every other challenge but thats how it is. My ‘to-cook’ list is so long that any challenge that I attempt will already be on that list anyway!

Anyway, we made Molten Lava cake (recipe from Show me the curry) this time and while mine did not really have any ‘lava’ in it, it was delicious all the same.


Molten Lava Cake

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  • 113 gm Baking Chocolate (I used Milk chocolate)
  • 113 gm Butter + extra for greasing
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup plain flour


Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C. Grease 4-5 ramekins and keep them ready.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Once melted add the butter and mix till it melts into the chocolate. Resist the temptation to finish this bowl off! Keep aside.

In a bowl whisk together the eggs and the sugar till the mixture turns light and fluffy. I used an electric hand mixer for about 5-6 minutes to achieve this.

Add the chocolate mix to the egg mix and combine. Add the flour and mix well.

Pour the batter into the ramekins till they 3/4 filled. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes.

Ideally serve warm with cream or vanilla ice cream but they taste great on their own too.

My Notes: I had to increase the baking time since mine were completely uncooked at 10-12 minutes. So I baked them for an additional 10 minutes but by then I had lost the gooey middle and the end result was soft cakes almost like chocolate fudge. I wasn't complaining though as we liked them very much just like that.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Parippu Vadai from a Diverse Kitchen

Aparna’s blog, A Diverse Kitchen, has been a constant source of inspiration. For me, its the best example of a food blog which successfully combines traditional and western recipes. If you have to decide the ‘category’ of this blog by going through the recipe index, its a tough job. The main reason being the wide variety of recipes you will find here. The blog totally lives up to the name and is indeed very diverse. It is the chosen blog for this month’s T & T event  being hosted by Srivalli at Cooking 4 all seasons.

I made these Parippu Vadai from Aparna’s blog and couldnt have found a simpler traditional palakkad iyer recipe, which goes a long way. They can be an accompaniment to the main meal or treated as snacks. Whats more, since they do not have any onions or garlic in them, they can be included in the Naivedya Thali too. I followed the exact recipe but I am giving it here anyway for easy reference.


Parippu Vadai (Spicy Lentil fritters)

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  • 1 cup Chana Dal (split Bengal Gram)
  • 2 tblsp Toor dal (
  • a pinch of Hing (Asafoetida)
  • 6-7 Curry Leaves
  • 1-2 Dried red chillies (depending on how spicy you want it & how hot the chillies are)
  • Salt
  • Oil for deep frying


Soak both the dals together for about an hour.

Once ready, grind together all the ingredients except the oil into a thick coarse paste using as little water as possible. The ideal would be to use no water at all. Aparna suggests reserving some dal before grinding and then adding it later on to the paste.

Heat the oil in a kadai. Now shape the vada using your fingers – flatten the mixture using your thumb & fingers and gently slide them into the hot oil. Fry them at a medium low flame until they are crisp and start to brown.

Drain them on a kitchen towel and serve hot.

My Notes: The Vadas were crispy and really tasty. I was wondering how they will taste with only red chillies and no other spices. But that was enough and the Hing adds its own flavour.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

A Sweet Punch thats Savoury – Golden Onion Quiche

To be very honest, I am not a Quiche person at all. The main reason being that I dont eat eggs, not in their usual form at least. I only tolerate them in cakes, muffins, cookies etc. Apart from that I am not at all comfortable with eggs, mainly because of the smell. That may explain why I am buying Vanilla essence every other week. I add it to recipes that dont call for it but have eggs in it, just to neutralise the smell.

Having said that, I have always wanted to try making a quiche because it requires some skills to get the pastry right & also to get the filling set to the right consistency. Its always good to challenge yourself even though you know you are not even going to touch the final product, right? But again, this is not my first attempt and the reason this blog hasn't heard about my earlier attempt is that it was a miserable failure to say the least. I think I went wrong at the basic – the pastry and then went on to mess up the filling as well. So the end result was a patchy & cracked pastry case with a runny, curdled and horrible looking filling. That put me off Quiche even more.

But since I had decided to try my best to complete all the Sweet Punch challenges, I had to give this one a go, if only to see if I had it in me to get it right. And I did get it right and was very pleased with the result. So much so that I could not resist eating a slice, although my original plan was only to feed GM :)

The recipe was quite straight forward and simple. I used red & green peppers along with Onions for the filling and also reduced the quantity of eggs to 2 for the filling. Apart from this, I also blind baked my pastry before filling it & baking it again. It was my opinion the last time I made quiche, that I failed because the pastry wasn't cooked properly so this time I decided to cook it before putting the filling. For more details please read the below recipe.

Golden Onion Quiche

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For the pastry

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 100 gm Butter, chilled (I used salted and skipped the salt in the recipe)
  • Cold water as reqd ( approx 1-2 tblsp)

For the filling

  • 1 tblsp Olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 each of green & red pepper, diced
  • 100 gm Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • salt & pepper

Method: Pre heat the oven to 200 deg C. Have 8/9 “ round tin ready.

Sieve the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add the chilled butter and mix/ rub to get a breadcrumb consistency. I did this using a fork and rubbing the butter into the flour. This works really well because you avoid touching the butter which in turn ensures that the butter stays chilled.

Now add the egg and bring together the dough using as little water as possible.

Flour the work surface and roll out the dough to a thickness of approx 1 inch and enough for the tin.

Now line the tin with the rolled out dough such that it fills it completely and also covers the edges. Press lightly at the corners and secure.

Now to blind bake, cover the surface with baking paper or foil. Place some baking beans or any beans or even raw rice. This is done so that the pastry doesn't rise & puff up and is baked evenly.

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Red Kidney Beans for blind baking                 All baked & ready for the filling now

Slide this into the pre heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until it starts to turn light brown. Once done, remove from oven, take off the beans and the baking paper. Let it cool for 2-3 minutes before proceeding with the filling.

While the pastry is being baked, heat the oil in a pan for the filling. Once hot, sauté the onions till they turn golden brown and then add in the diced peppers. Cook for another 3-4 minutes and turn off the heat.

Transfer this into a bowl and add the milk, cheese, egg and season with salt and pepper.

When the pastry is ready, fill this mixture into the pastry up to the brim and then bake in the oven again for 20-25 minutes or until set, firm and golden on the top.

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Enjoy warm.

My Notes: I did have a little bit of the filling left although I made a small quiche in a mini pan as well. So the quantity of milk can be reduced to 3/4 of a cup, I think.

As mentioned earlier the end result was superb. Will I make it again? Definitely! Will I start eating Quiches more frequently? Maybe. I would like to try some more flavour combinations before I have a definite answer for the last question. I have to find something which might mask the strong smell/taste of the eggs. Any suggestions?

Friday 3 September 2010

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup

I admit I said the break was going to be only for a week but here I am, after more than a month. I did come back from the holiday in a week but have been running around to sort out a lot of things, hence the delayed break on the blog front. I missed a couple of events which I try to participate every month. And the most important thing is that my unread folder in the reader is over flowing with all your lovely posts!

As for the holiday it was great & a much needed break from the routine. We went to Cornwall for a week and stayed in a chalet with another family. The weather did try to dampen our spirits (literally!) but we managed to have fun anyway. Here are a few pictures.

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Another significant part of this holiday was that for the first time we did all the cooking while there. It was fun and a great experience rushing to make something while getting the kids ready to go out. Especially since it was our first experience with a hot plate. I have a new found respect for all those who manage to cook on a hot plate every day and manage to dish out perfect rice, gravies etc, basically anything! Even making simple tea took 2-3 attempts for us to get used to it.

Although I have been cooking regularly, I havent made anything new or that is not already on this blog but I did have this recipe waiting in the drafts folder, so I am finally posting it.

As I have mentioned earlier, Soup for a long time only meant Tomato soup and an unadulterated one at that. I did not want to add anything to it for fear of ‘ruining’ (altering actually) the taste. I did try some canned versions and even managed to finish my portion most of the times but I was still not convinced. That is until I tried the roasted red pepper version.

Red peppers have a special place in my fridge, the rule is there should always be at least one red pepper in the fridge to be used whenever the need arrives. And it is needed every 2 days usually. Apart from adding them to stir fries, Fried rice etc, we also like to have a simple sandwich with houmus (also spelt as hummus) and roasted red pepper. The best use is of course in this soup which is so simple to make that it leaves you doubtful about the way it will turn out. But it is super delicious and a great change from the regular Tomato Soup while giving you the same satisfaction.


Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup

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Serves 2


  • 3 Red Peppers
  • 3 Medium sized tomatoes
  • 1 tblsp Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Crushed Red Chilli
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • Salt & Pepper


Roasting the red peppers:

a) The red peppers can be roasted directly on the flame on your gas, in which case keep turning them to cover each area and roast them till the skin chars (turns black) and starts to loosen. This method gives a firmer result as in it is easier to handle the peppers. Just wait for them to cool down, then peel the skin, which comes off easily and then chop them coarsely.

b) The other method is to use the oven. Pre heat the oven to 220 deg C on the grill setting. Lightly grease the Peppers and place them on an oven tray as close to the heating coil as possible. Remember to keep the oven door open for the grill to work. Keep turning the peppers to get the skin charred throughout. This does take a bit more time than the earlier method but you are free to do any thing else while the oven is on. Once the peppers are roasted thoroughly, remove them into a box and close the lid or use a zip lock bag. Wait for them to cool down and all the juices to collect. Peel the skin, chop coarsely and retain the juices.

To prepare the tomatoes, bring a saucepan full of water to boil and immerse the tomatoes in the boiling water for a minute or two. Take them out when you see the skin cracking. Allow them to cool and then peel them and chop coarsely.

To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a deep pan. Add the chopped onion and garlic and fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add the crushed red chilli, the tomatoes and the Red Peppers along with the retained juices.

Add the smoked Paprika and season with salt & pepper. Add about 2 cups of water and bring it to boil. Then simmer for about 10-12 minutes until the soup has reduced a bit. This simmering will bring out the flavour in the tomatoes. The time depends upon the consistency that you want. We like the soup to be quite thick so I wait until almost all the water has reduced.

Switch off the heat and wait for it to cool down. Then blend the mixture, I use a hand blender.

Once ready to serve, heat through and adjust the seasoning.

My Notes: As simple to make as it is, it tastes way better than the canned ones. You can do the roasting part a day in advance and keep the roasted, peeled peppers in the fridge and use them the next day, which makes it even quicker to make. 


Souper Sundays2


This Soup is off to Souper Sundays being held every week at Kahakai Kitchen, where Salads & Sandwiches keep company too!

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Instant Mango Pickle

The mango season was her favourite, always had been. Apart from the weather being favourable for all the kids to hang out for endless hours, it also marked the vacation from college and the visit to the village. While she didn't particularly like being surrounded by all the relatives commenting on how she had grown up so much and how it will soon be time to look for a groom for her, there was something in the village atmosphere that she always looked forward to. Away from the hustle bustle of the city life that she was used to, she liked going to the village unlike others of her age who thought it was very dull & boring.

She loved sitting on the banks of the small river that ran across the village. She liked visiting the local temple for the calm & peace. She loved the ‘khaddi’ ice cream (ice cream on a stick) which was nothing but frozen flavoured water. And then there was adventure of picking mangoes right from the trees. That was the best part of all, even though her mother kept reminding her that she was too old to do such things and more so because she would go out with the boys.

One such afternoon when the household was asleep she tip toed her way towards the backyard and jumped to the other side to meet her friends, 6 boys & one more girl of her age. She knew that if her mother came to know about this excursion of hers she was in for a sound scolding but the lure of the mango tree made her forget all the caution. They made their way towards the grove of mango trees that they had been eying for some time. She climbed one of the trees with ease and found that there were more green mangoes on that one. She thought about having them with some salt & red chilli powder and that was enough to motivate her to start picking them and throwing them on to the back pack that she was carrying. She heard some one shouting from the other end as she reached for another mango and she started to panic. Could it be some one from home who had come looking for her?

She quickly hurried down and ran all the way home and so did all her friends. On reaching home, she quickly emptied her backpack near the tulsi plant as she did not want to be caught with them. Her mother came out just as she had finished and called her for the tea. She was quite relieved to realise that no one had missed her while she was away.

A couple of hours later she strode into the kitchen and found her mother excitedly chattering about the mango pickle she was going to make. She had never seen her so excited about something she regularly used to make. Curious, she asked about it and her mother told her how she had chanced upon these lovely green mangoes near the Tulsi plant and right when she was going to the market to get them! She smiled, said nothing and started thinking about the dinner with the delicious pickle.


I never knew that you can be creative when you are under pressure, but it just so happened that I realised that today was the last day for the event that I am eagerly awaiting every month - Of Chalks & Chopsticks #3. Having promised myself never to miss this event under any circumstances, this is what I came up with at the last minute. But isn't that the whole essence of this post anyway, what with the last minute mango pickle?

Instant Mango Pickle

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  • 2 Green Mangoes, seed discarded & cut into medium sized pieces along with the skin.
  • 1 tblsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Hing (Asafoetida)
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/4 cup Jaggery, grated (adjust according to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Fenugreek
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Mustard
  • 1-2 tsp Red Chilli Powder (Adjust according to taste)
  • Salt


Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add the mustard seeds and allow them to splutter. Add the hing and the turmeric powder and wait for it to sizzle. Do all this on a low-medium flame so that the mustard seeds & hing get ‘fried’ a little.

Next add the mango pieces and mix to coat. Sauté this on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Add the ground fenugreek, ground mustard, red chilli powder and salt. Mix well and fry for another minute or so.

Add enough water to completely cover the mango and put in the jaggery. Mix well and bring to a boil and then let it simmer until it thickens a little.

This pickle can stay well for about 3-4 days in the fridge.

My Notes: This pickle should taste sweet, sour & spicy. You can adjust the quantities of jaggery & chilli powder according to the sourness of the mangoes and your individual taste. Also, green mangoes which are a little soft rather than firm, work very well for this pickle.

PS: I just realised that I hardly ever name my stories. Should I name this one & if yes, any ideas?

Sunday 25 July 2010

Spicy Red Kidney Bean wrap

The weather here nowadays is the best it can be. Bright & sunny most of the times with just a bit of drizzle thrown in now & then to cool it off. You would want to spend each weekend at the beach. Although that is practically not possible for us, we have decided to compensate for it by going away to the beach for a week – a day for each weekend of the summer! While we are super excited about the trip, we are also keeping our fingers crossed that the weather doesn't do a flip on us and it stays the same for the month end when we will be at the beach, after all its no fun if it keeps raining and gets too cold at the beach.

When it is hot around, you dont really feel like spending too much time in the kitchen and the sandwiches & wraps come to your rescue, giving you that much needed break from cooking as well as from the routine food. Our all time favourite is the Bombay style sandwich using this chutney. But every now & then we play around with different wraps for a change. When I came across this wrap on Sailu’s blog, I wanted to make it as soon as possible. We had it the next day for a light dinner and it was perfect. Its also perfect as an entry to Nupur’s Blog Bites #5 – Sandwiches & Wraps.

I did make some changes to suit the things I had with me, the significant one being that I used wholemeal pita bread instead of the wrap given in the recipe.

Spicy Kidney Bean Wrap

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Serves 2


For the filling

  • 1.5-2 cups Red Kidney Beans, cooked
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Green Chilli paste
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tblsp Tomato Ketchup
  • salt
  • 2 tblsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 tblsp oil


For the spread

  • 1/2 cup yogurt, beaten
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • salt

To Assemble

  • Thinly sliced Onion
  • 2 Wholemeal Pita Breads


Heat the oil in a pan. Add the grated ginger and chilli paste and fry. Next add all the dry spices along with salt and a little bit of water to prevent the spices from burning.

Add the tomato ketchup and mix well. Then add the cooked Red Kidney beans along with a little water, mix and let it cook for 5-7 minutes.

Add the coriander leaves, mix and turn off the heat.

Mix the yogurt, tomatoes and season with salt and keep ready.

To assemble, toast the Pita breads and then slice them open. Spread a little of the yogurt mixture and then spoon in the filling along with the sliced onions.

My Notes: The original recipe needed Kasuri methi to be added in the end while cooking the filling. I was going to do it but completely forgot about it. I am sure this would have given a different flavour to the filling.

Also for the yogurt mixture, Sailu uses hung yogurt while I just used normal one.

The best thing about this recipe is that it can be adapted in such a lot of ways. You can change the combination of spices, use other herbs such as oregano along with a touch of Tabasco sauce. Do you have any other ideas ?

Thursday 15 July 2010

Kara Sev for ICC

This month’s challenge was Kara Sev, which turned out to be very different from the sev that we make at home. Having said that, I had never tried making sev, any kind, before this. I had seen my Mom make it every Diwali for the ‘faral’ but had never tried to do it myself. So just like the Muruku gave me practice for the Chakli making, Kara sev has made me familiar with the sev making process.

The major difference in the two types of sev has to be the addition of rice flour in the case of kara sev. The recipe provided was simple & easy to follow and something as delicious and addictive as Sev can not be simpler to make.

I reduced the quantity of the ingredients to make a lesser amount. The original quantity mentioned in the recipe are being given in brackets next to the quantity that I actually used.

Kara Sev



  • 1 Cup Besan (Gram Flour) (2.5 cups)
  • 2 tblsp Rice flour (1 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp Red Chilli Powder (1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper Powder (1 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic paste (2 garlic pods, crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp Ghee (2.5 tsp)
  • Salt
  • 1 pinch cooking soda (I skipped this)
  • a little water
  • Oil for deep frying

Method: Take all the ingredients except for the oil & water in a bowl and mix well.

Now sprinkle a little water and knead into a firm but soft dough. Use water as required but only a little at a time.

Heat the oil in a kadai. Check to see if the oil is hot enough, pinch off a little dough and drop it into the oil. If it sizzles right away, the oil is heated enough.

Grease the Chakali Maker with the Sev attachment, well and place the dough into it. Cover and press directly over the hot oil taking care not to splutter any hot oil. If you are not confident enough to do this, grease a plate and press on to it. Then transfer to the hot oil.

Fry till it starts to brown. Drain onto kitchen towel. Allow it cool completely before breaking it down and storing into an air tight container.


My Notes: This was a simple & easy recipe with a great end result. I had to reduce the amount I made for fear of munching on the sev too much (we are a little weight conscious nowadays!).

Although I had thought I had added enough salt, I found that the sev could have done with more. I guess you should add a little more than you actually think is required. Apart from this one thing, the Kara sev was perfect!

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Hazelnut Chocolate Bars

Typical scenario on  the day that I am planning to bake something:

Get up in the morning, take the butter & eggs out of the fridge. You never know when I can sneak in a chance to bake & I dont want to have cold & hard butter staring at me then. Besides its a tip I have picked up regarding baking – unless otherwise mentioned, all the ingredients should be at room temperature for you to have a chance at the desired end result.

Once I see that I might have some time on hand, I switch on the oven to ‘pre heat’ to the specified temperature, then go about my other chores along with getting together the ingredients for the bake. I start taking the flour out & if S happens to be in the kitchen at that time, I have to postpone it because she always likes to stick her hand in the flour and make a mess, however hard I try to prevent it! Then I have to either wait for her to go out again or make an excuse to send her out to her toys because if I tell her to go so that Mum can work on something she is sure to stick around in the kitchen to ‘see’ what Mum is up to so that she can replicate the same in her toy kitchen the next day & impress everyone!

I somehow manage to get the dry ingredients at one place & keep everything ready for the wet ones. Then I take a quick look to check if S is duly occupied & not up to any mischief, if I find that she is indeed doing something she is not supposed to, the ingredients have to wait some more till I resolve that. So after I have scolded S for whatever she was doing, reading a story to her just to pacify her, playing with her & getting her to play on her own, I return to the kitchen to the well ‘pre heated’ oven & the forever waiting ingredients.

By the time I finally manage to put everything together & slide it into the oven, the oven has been in the ‘pre – heated’ state for at least 2-3 hours. Thats the minimum by the way and I realised it last time I baked something. So this time I put on a timer just to determine how much time it takes

I almost always bake in the afternoon, either after S has settled into her high chair with the lunch or after she has gone to sleep. If its something complicated like a layered cake or a new recipe I wait for GM to be at home to ensure there are no interruptions.

I always wanted to try out something with oats. Imagine baking some cookies & enjoying them knowing that they dont have any plain flour to threaten your health, although I admit, this recipe almost makes up for it with the amount of butter involved! Remember my very modest first investment in a cook book? This recipe comes from the same book.

Hazelnut Chocolate Bars

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Makes about


  • 2.5 cups rolled oats
  • 5 tblsp Hazelnuts, lightly roasted & chopped
  • 1/2 cup Plain flour
  • 8 tblsp Butter (extra for greasing)
  • 7 tblsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tblsp Golden syrup
  • 5 tblsp Chocolate chips (I used plain chocolate)

Method: Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C. Grease a 9” shallow square tin or any other equivalent tin.

Mix together the oats, hazelnuts & flour in a bowl and keep aside.

Combine the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan and heat gently on a low flame until all the sugar has dissolved.

Pour this into the oats mixture and mix well. Add in the chocolate chips and combine.

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Put this mixture into the prepared tin, level as much as possible and then bake in the pre heated oven for 20-25 minutes until firm to touch.

Once you take it out of the oven, mark the surface using a sharp knife into pieces as you like. The recipe called for triangles but I made them into rectangles. Once you have marked them, leave to cool in the tin.

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Once cooled, cut into pieces and remove from the tin and store in an air tight container.

My Notes: This was super easy! How simpler can it get? The bars were very tasty and got over in no time.

The original recipe called for chocolate chips which would have resulted in something like chocolate chip cookies. But I did not have the chocolate chips so I used plain chocolate instead. This gave the bars a chocolate flavour but the chocolate was uniform throughout and we couldnt really bite into the chocolate. We didn't mind it though.

These bars are off to Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen for the Bake-off event.

Thursday 8 July 2010

Devil’s food cupcakes

There is nothing devilish about them apart from the calories perhaps, but at least they dont pretend unlike some other food items which look quite innocent but pack loads of calories. Now thats what I would call devilish! These cupcakes can only be called delicious, yummy, superb and other such adjectives.

This is my first Sweet Punch and we had to make Devil’s food cupcakes with a vanilla cream filling and the frosting was optional. I halved the given recipe and omitted the frosting. I thoroughly enjoyed making these cupcakes, although I did have my share of misfortune. I attempted to make them 2 weeks back and the end result was not what I wanted. They did taste absolutely fantastic but I could not get them out of the muffin tin and retain their shape. Those pieces were used in an impromptu pudding, drizzled with some custard and that was tasty! Having tasted them I could not help but try again and this time I was smart enough to use cupcake cases.

This recipe was from Baking Bites, a blog which I follow quite ardently.

Devil’s food cupcakes

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Makes 12


For the cupcake

  • 1/4 cup Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup All purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tblsp sour cream (I used Crème fraiche)
  • 2-3 tblsp Cocoa powder
  • 30 gm Dark Chocolate
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

For the Vanilla Cream filling

  • 1.5 tbsp All purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract


For the cupcakes:

Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C. Grease & line (with cupcake cases) a 12 cup muffin pan.

Sieve together the flour, baking soda and salt and keep it aside.

Cream together the butter and the sugar until pale & fluffy. Beat in the egg and whisk some more.

Add half the flour mixture and mix properly. Add in the sour cream and vanilla extract and mix.

Add the remaining flour and combine thoroughly.

Add the cocoa powder and dark chocolate to the boiling water and stir well. Add this mixture to the batter and combine well.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin. Bake in the pre heated oven for about 20 min until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool in the tin for sometime and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Vanilla cream filling:

Whisk together the milk and the all purpose flour and cook this in a non stick saucepan on low heat. Keep stirring to prevent the formation of lumps till the mixture thickens like custard. This will hardly take 4-5 minutes. At this point, transfer it to a bowl straining through a fine mesh, cover with Clingfilm and allow it cool completely.

Once the above has cooled, cream together the butter and sugar till fluffy. Add the milk & flour mixture and beat well for about 5-7 minutes. The end result should be very light & fluffy. Spoon this into a Icing bag or use a zip lock bag with the corner cut off.

To fill the cupcakes:

Take a cooled cupcake and using a small sharp knife, start scoring the top of the cake into a circle just inside of the edges. Cut off a cone shape in this manner giving you a cavity in the cupcake. Cut off the pointy edge of the cone to give you a disc shape, keep aside. Repeat this with all the cupcakes.

Now, fill in the cavities of the cupcakes with the vanilla cream filling and then top each of the cupcake with the disc of cake to keep the filling in place.

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Chocolate Butter cream Frosting (I skipped this)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat, with an electric mixer, until frosting is creamy, 3-5 minutes. Add additional powdered sugar as needed to achieve a thick, but not stiff, frosting that is easy to spread. Add additional milk, if necessary, to thin the frosting if it gets too thick.

Cover the cupcakes with the above frosting.

My Notes: This was a great experience. The cupcakes were very soft and chocolaty, just the way we like them. We didn't miss the frosting at all.

I had to bake the cakes for a longer time (20 min) than specified in the recipe (13-15 min). I have done all the whisking and beating by hand on this occasion as I was baking at night & didn't want to wake my daughter up, although even I made quite a racket. But the point is it turned out quite well even without the electric mixer.

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Celery and Apple Soup

I know this might sound odd, but I have only recently started to use Google Reader, any reader for that matter. Now, that doesn't mean I didn't follow all of your blogs before this, but the method I followed was, well a little different. As primitive as this might sound, I used to actually bookmark or mark as favourite the blogs that I wanted to read & every other day I would go to each of the sites to see if there was a new post. I know, very time consuming but thats how I used to do it. Just imagine the extent of my loyalty for all your blogs here!

There was no particular reason for not using a reader, I just didn't look into it. But now that I have ‘discovered’ it, I cant get enough of it. For one, I can follow so many more blogs & sites because I dont have to think about crowding my bookmark folder. Plus I dont have to go to each site wondering if there will be a new post. I just know who has a new one by just looking at the list on the reader. Oh! This is making me sound more & more stupid for not having used it earlier!

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Spicy Brown Rice Khichadi

Let me start this post with a list of grains, lentils & beans in my Pantry.

  • Toor Dal (Split pigeon pea)
  • Yellow Moong Dal
  • Green Moong Dal
  • Black eyed beans
  • Sona Masoori Rice
  • Basmati Rice
  • Brown Rice
  • Urad Dal (Split Black gram)
  • Chickpeas
  • Red Kidney beans
  • Moth (for Matki)
  • Whole Moong Beans
  • Whole Urad (Whole Black gram)
  • Dried Vaal (Hyacinth Beans)
  • Brown Chickpeas
  • Red Chori (Adzuki Beans)
  • Chana Dal (Split Bengal gram)
  • Masoor (Brown lentils)


Thats one huge list specially considering the size of my kitchen. Apart from the above I have the usual ‘essentials’ such as wheat flour, all purpose flour, rice flour, nuts, Semolina, Besan and so on. The list really is endless here.

I do try to use all of these regularly and sometimes manage to do it, but very often some of things get pushed in the back to make room for newer finds and then conveniently forgotten until you get up & decide to clean the pantry or till an event comes by to jolt you and make you think about these things.

I had got Brown Rice in the hope of replacing normal rice with it & thereby start eating healthy. I tried to do that but we were not very comfortable with the idea of having the very nutty Brown rice with Aamti or varan & could not even imagine a curd rice with it! So as expected the packet was put in the back to be used as & when I found something interesting to make with it. Nupur’s Blog Bites ensured that I did just that. Sra promptly posted a perfect recipe a few days back, almost as if she could read my mind. Now I had no excuse to avoid using the Brown Rice which was really pushed back in the shelf.

Spicy Brown Rice Khichadi


Serves 2 as a meal

  • 1.5 cups Brown Rice, soaked for at least 30 minutes
  • 1 tblsp Ghee
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1” piece of Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Hing (Asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1-2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1 medium sized potato, cubed
  • 1 Carrot, diced
  • 1 Medium Tomato, chopped

Heat the Ghee in a deep pan or in a pressure cooker.

Add the cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds and as they start sizzling add the hing.

Add the potatoes & carrot and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add the salt, turmeric powder, garam masala, red chilli powder and coriander powder. mix well and let it fry a few more minutes.

Add the soaked and washed rice, mix well and fry for another minute. Add 3 cups of water, close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook for approx 10-15 minutes. The time will depend upon the type of pressure cooker so calculate accordingly.

Serve hot as is or with a raita.

My Notes: Although the method is quite similar to the preparation of Masala Bhaat that we make quite often, the ghee made it taste entirely different. The Brown rice was perfect for this and we enjoyed it on its own.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Pani Puri (Gol Gappe)

While this month’s Indian Cooking Challenge was not new to me, I had never gotten around to make at home, what is a major part of this challenge. Pani Puri, or Gol Gappe as they are called up in North India, was the almost unanimous choice when Srivalli opened the space for suggestions and I have to admit that although I didn't register my choice, I was quite happy that Pani Puri was chosen.

Pani Puri happens to be my favourite chaat item and while I prefer to eat it out at the stalls, I started making it at home (when in India) just to achieve that taste and here in London because of the lack of such chaat stalls. The ones that you get in proper restaurants somehow dont have the same charm for me!

The dish itself brings back a lot of memories, all of them associated with friends. What is the fun in having Pani Puri alone? Try having a Pani Puri eating competition with your friends and you will know what I am talking about.

And then there were the preferences for a particular ‘bhaiyya’, i.e. the chaat stall owner. I always preferred the Dhaniya-Pudina Pani (water) while some of my friends preferred the ice cold one which had tamarind in it as opposed to the Lime juice in the former.

But whichever option you choose, nothing can beat the experience of having Pani Puri from your favourite stall, waiting impatiently for the Pani Puri to arrive on your plate, trying to fit the whole puri in your wide open mouth, never once thinking about how funny you might be looking at that instant, relishing the sweet, spicy, sour taste and then struggling to finish it in time for the next one that has been already plonked on your plate.

Coming back to the challenge, as I have mentioned I had been making Pani Puri at home for a long time but had never tried to make the Puri at home although it was in my ‘to-do’ list. I failed miserably at my first attempt and had to go back to look at the recipe to see if I had missed any note or important point. Thats when I read in the comments about using baking powder instead of the soda. So I tried that and the puris puffed up nicely after that. But now I think that the first attempt might also have failed because there was a tad bit more maida and sub consciously, I corrected that the second time. Next time I am going to try reducing the Maida and using the soda to determine if the Soda was indeed the culprit.

Also I used lime juice in the Pani instead of tamarind as this is how we prefer it.

Pani Puri


Makes about 3-4 plates i.e. 18-24 puris

For the Puri
1/2 cup Rawa (Semolina)
1 tsp Maida (All purpose flour)
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
A small pinch of salt
Oil to deep fry

For the Pani (Spicy water)
2-3 tblsp chopped mint leaves
1-2 tblsp chopped fresh coriander leaves

Juice of 1 lime
2-3 green chillies
1 tsp Roasted Cumin Powder
Black Salt (to taste)
4 cups of water

For the sweet (Tamarind) Chutney
2-3 tblsp Tamarind pulp
2-3 tblsp grated Jaggery (Increase if the chutney gets too sour)
1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1/2 tsp Roasted Cumin powder
Black Salt (to taste)

Filling for Puri
1 Potato, boiled & roughly mashed and mixed with a pinch of salt


For the Puri
Take all the ingredients except for the oil in a mixing bowl, combine & make a stiff dough using very little water. Since Semolina is the main ingredient here, you will need only a few drops of water to make the dough. Knead for 2-3 min and then cover it with a damp muslin cloth and let it rest for 15 min to half an hour.

Heat the oil for deep frying. Pinch off a little dough at a time and roll out very small Puris, keeping in mind that they have to be had whole.
I rolled the dough out into a big chapati and used a cookie cutter to give me small puris, gathered the remaining dough and repeated until all the dough was used up. This was quick and gave me uniform sized puris.

Deep fry the puris in the hot oil just like you would a normal puri so that it puffs up. Drain them on kitchen towel and allow them to cool down completely before storing them in an air tight container until required.

For the Pani
Grind together all the ingredients mentioned for the Pani, except the water. Use a little water for grinding to give you a paste. Mix this paste with the 4 cups of water and chill until ready to serve.

To assemble
Take the puris, crack open a bit and fill with the potato filling. Add about 1/2-1 tsp of the sweet chutney and then fill it up with the spicy Pani and gobble up immediately!

My Notes: The puris turned out great but I would have liked them to be a little more crispier. Maybe the Maida was the real culprit all along. I will definitely try it again and update this space.

You can try other filling options such as

Boondi – Soak salted Boondi in warm water for 5-7 minutes, drain and then use them as a filling
Lentils – Boil Chana Dal till completely cooked & mushy, add salt, turmeric powder & Garam Masala. This is a bit like the Ragda and can be used as a filling

Its great to have Pani Puri made at home and specially with no one watching you make those funny faces but I will still vouch for the ‘stall’ experience and urge those who have access to go out once in while and have Pani Puri at their favourite stall.  My favourite used to be a stall in Ghatkopar (West) near the station, I still go there every time I visit India.

What has been your favourite place to have it? Would love to know.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Gnocchi with a Tomato Basil Sauce




The little girl was circling around her mother for a long time trying to get a glimpse of what she was doing on the kitchen counter. She, the girl i.e., always liked to watch her mum working in the kitchen. giving an impression that she was trying to learn the tricks of the trade or so to speak, never mind her young age.

With all her interest in food & cooking, you would think that she must be a very easy kid to feed, but it was entirely the opposite. She was a very fussy eater and a very typical one at that. No rice, only potatoes for vegetables, moody when it came to sweets and so on. But Pasta was a different story altogether. She always liked pasta and the fact that they came in so many different shapes & sizes added to the excitement for her.

So her mother was quite confident about dinner time today since the child will have no problem with Pasta. But all that if only she would allow her to cook in peace. She chopped the tomatoes for the sauce & opened a can of chopped tomatoes as well. They all liked it to be tangy.

” I dont like tomatoes!” cried the girl. “ They are not for you, we are going to eat them.” replied her mum thinking that once the sauce was all mushy &  done, the girl will not realise that she was eating tomatoes.

She took out the basil packet from the fridge & glanced towards her attempt at a herb garden in the kitchen. The Basil was growing slowly & that made her smile and she thought that it wont be long before she would not have to buy these herbs any more. The girl had followed her glance and she got all excited at the sight of the plant. “ Look! A Beanstalk!”  “ Thats not a beanstalk, its Basil” replied her mum.

” I like Basil a lot, it tastes great!” said the girl. 

“Dont just say anything to please me, do you even know what it is & where it is used?” snapped the irritated mother.

”In the Pasta, of course!” said the girl and that definitely silenced the mother. How did she know that?

She somehow managed to finish cooking and sat to feed her daughter and was taken aback when the girl refused to eat it. “ This is not Pasta, I want Pasta!” The mother realising that she had never before seen Gnocchi, tried to explain that it was a kind of pasta, only a different shape. But the girl wouldn't have it.

” But its made of Potatoes…..” She tried one last time.” Oh! Why didn't you tell me that?” said the girl and happily started gobbling up the pasta.


“Of Chalks and Chopsticks” is an event designed to let our creative juices flow and the second edition is being hosted by Sandeepa. This post will make it just in time for the event.

As for the recipe,

I am making a simple Tomato-Basil sauce for Pasta for the first time. Before this, my sauce used to have almost all the Italian spices to make it full of flavour, we being very particular about how the food should taste of something and not just the ‘seasoning’  - salt & pepper. BTW, can you even taste the finely ground black pepper if it is just sprinkled the way they show in all those cookery shows? I for one cant. It has to be loads for me!

Anyway the point here is that my Pasta sauce almost always had too many things, so when I saw this simple recipe in my favourite book, Delia’s Vegetarian Collection, I hadn't paid much attention but a few days back thought of trying it just for the sake of it. We anyway wanted a change from the usual Tomato sauce with the pasta.


The Pasta itself was different this time, Gnocchi, which is a dumpling kind of pasta generally made from potatoes.

Gnocchi with Tomato-Basil Sauce

Picture 0071

Serves 2
2-3 cups Gnocchi

1 Small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2-3 Tomatoes

1 Can of chopped tomatoes in juice
A handful of fresh Basil leaves
1 tblsp Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup, cubed Mozzarella (optional)
1-2 tblsp grated Parmesan (optional)

Heat the oil in a deep pan. Reserve 1 of the tomatoes & chop the rest.

Fry the chopped onion & crushed garlic in the oil until the onion turns translucent, about 4-5 minutes.

Now add the chopped tomatoes (fresh & canned) along with 1/2 of the basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper and then let it simmer for about an hour or so. This is the part that gives the sauce all its flavour & taste. You have to wait till it thickens and reaches a chutney or jam like consistency which concentrates the flavour of the Tomato.

Then roughly chop the reserved Tomato and add this along with the remaining Basil leaves. Cook for a minute and then stir in the mozzarella if using. The cheese here is not mandatory as the sauce packs enough flavour even otherwise but it does result in a creamier texture.

Simmer the sauce for another 2-3 minutes while the mozzarella melts.

While the sauce is cooking bring a pan of salted water to boil and drop the Gnocchi in it. They take only 2-3 minutes to cook & once cooked will float on to the surface. Drain them and add the butter and season with salt & pepper. Mix well until combined.

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To serve, place the Gnocchi in the serving bowl and spoon over the Tomato Sauce and then sprinkle the grated Parmesan over it.

My Notes:  The slow simmering of the Tomatoes works wonders here. You have to be patient with it. In fact once it is put to simmer you can carry on with other things and only check it once in a while to stir it up. At the end it will all be worth while just for the aroma it lets out!

Thursday 3 June 2010

Madeira Cake (Butter/Pound Cake)

It has been quite a while that the same picture stares at you whenever you visit this blog. The only consolation was that it was Ras Malai :)

The past couple of weeks have been very hectic, more than the usual that is. The daughter turned 3 years and it was like a week long celebration with 2 parties & the whole time went in planning & executing them. But S was very happy & still keeps talking about how much she enjoyed everything, so it was worth while.

This Birthday also saw me baking the Birthday cake. I do bake cakes & other stuff at home, but I had never ventured into making a Birthday cake as big as this one – to serve 40 people. I was very glad that it turned out great & was even more happy to receive compliments! 

Having said all that I am not presenting that cake in this post. I feel that when it comes to cakes, I should first mention the one that got me started and then slowly graduate to the more elaborate stuff :)

This is the cake which has endured all my baking trial & errors. I started to bake with this one and after having had some bad & not so bad results I can easily say that I have perfected it now. From preparing for the whole day to taking just 15 min to put the cake into oven, I have come a long way, almost 3 years!

I remember I used to feel nervous for the first 3-4 times that I put this cake into the oven, wondering if it will turn out good this time. I could barely hold myself from taking it out and having a look again & again – now that definitely spoils your cake!

Although it has been a while since I wanted to post this here, I always forgot to photograph it every time I made. By the time I remembered it would be too late i.e. the cake would have been long devoured. Even this time I can easily say that the cake is far more delicious than the photo gives credit, I guess my trials & errors on that front (the pics) will have to continue a lot more. But really I am a great fan of this cake & GM is a bigger fan. He wants me to make this everytime I am thinking of baking something.

Butter Cake (Madeira Cake)

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2 Cups All Purpose flour (Maida)
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt


Pre Heat the oven to 180 deg C. Grease & flour a 9 inch round cake tin and keep ready.

In a bowl, combine the butter & sugar. beat them together until light & fluffy using an electric mixer or with a whisk.

Sieve together the flour, Baking Powder & salt and keep aside.

Add the eggs and beat until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla extract & beat for another minute.

Now add the 1/3 of the flour mixture & beat on gently to combine. Add half the milk and mix until blended. Add the next 1/3 of the flour & continue as earlier with the remaining milk.

Finally add the remaining 1/3 flour and beat till combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure that all the ingredients are mixed together.

Pour the batter into the prepared Cake tin and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Ti check if the cake is done, insert a sharp knife in the centre of the cake & if it comes out clean without any batter clinging to it, then it is all done.

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Tale it out of the oven & let it cool in the tin for sometime before turning it over on a rack to cool down completely.

If it doesn't get over immediately, store in an air tight container. This stays well for about 3-4 days.

My Notes:

Although I have mentioned a round tin to be used,I have earlier made this as a loaf & also a square cake. Make sure to use a pan equivalent in terms of volume. This time I baked it in a smaller round tin and also made 2 tiny ones.

I generally use salted butter instead of adding extra salt. The sugar can be adjusted as per your taste but the above quantity yields a cake which is not too sweet but just the way we like it.

I can easily say that this is a tried & tested recipe and never fails me. Of course I arrived at it after a lot of trials as I have mentioned earlier in the post.

Saturday 15 May 2010

Ras Malai for ICC

This month’s chosen ICC dish was the classic favourite Ras Malai. It is always my preferred dessert when eating out, for the simple reason that it is generally not too sweet but satisfies that craving for something sweet after a meal.

It might look very complicated to make but this is one of the simplest dishes to make with very few ingredients. Although I have made it earlier, it helped to have the exact measurements on hand while making it for the ICC.


I halved the recipe but still got 10 well sized paneer balls. The rest of the steps were followed exactly.

Ras Malai

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Makes about 10


1.5 L whole Milk
1.5 tblsp Vinegar
1 tsp Plain Flour (Maida)
8 + 8 tblsp Sugar (Adjust acc to taste)

6-8 strands of Saffron
2-3 Cardamom pods, shelled & crushed
Coarsely chopped/crushed nuts (I used almonds)


To make the Paneer, boil 1 litre of the milk and allow to cool down completely. Remove the layer of cream collected on the top. Bring the milk to boil again, switch off the flame and then add the vinegar. This will make the milk split into the Paneer and whey. Wait for 2-3 minutes and then strain the paneer collecting the whey.

Picture 109

To drain all the remaining liquid from the paneer, tie it in a muslin cloth & leave hanging, squeezing from time to time, for about 1-2 hours. I didnt actually do this, but placed a small kadai with some things to add weight, on top of the above arrangement & it worked out fine.

Meanwhile begin to prepare the milk syrup by bringing to boil the remaining 500 ml milk in a thick bottomed sauce pan. Reduce the flame and let it simmer till reduced to half the quantity. Add 8 tblsp sugar, saffron and the cardamom powder. Continue to heat for 3-4 minutes & switch off the heat. Add the nuts and keep aside.

Once the paneer is almost dry, take it in a wide vessel and knead well for about 5-7 minutes till it is a smooth mixture. At this point at the plain flour and mix well. 

At the same time, add 3 cups of water to a pressure cooker & bring to boil. Add the remaining 8 tblsp Sugar and mix.

Now, pinch off small balls and shape them into slightly flat discs. Put these discs in the boiling water, cover and cook on low flame for about 10 min. Alternatively put on the pressure cooker lid and cook for 2 whistles.

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Please keep in mind, that the paneer discs will expand in size as they cook, when choosing the pressure cooker or vessel to cook them.

Once they are cooked transfer them to the milk syrup and allow to cool completely.  Chill in the fridge before serving. Garnish with more nuts if required.

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My Notes: I am always wary when I adjust the recipe for things like this but the Ras Malai turned out to be perfect. This will be another regular dessert for us now. A great one to impress your guests, I say!

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Simple Cabbage stir fry Bhaji

How long do you spend planning the menu each day? Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner – do they dominate your thoughts throughout the day? Are you constantly thinking about how to use up the stuff lying in the fridge & how best to make use of them?

Please say yes to all the questions above & tell me that you too spend a lot of time thinking & planning the menu. It will rid me of the concern that I am overly obsessed with thinking about what to make for each meal. I sometimes think that I spend way more time making up my mind than actually cooking because once I have decided, its usually a breeze.

I might have exaggerated a bit there, its not the only thought going on but I do tend to be like that on some days. On one such day when I couldnt readily make anything ‘new’, I picked up the cabbage and made this simple stir fry which I have been making all the time, realising at the same time that I haven't blogged about it as well. You do tend to take such simple things for granted, dont you?

This is as simple as it can get and there is no exact science involved except that you have to get the quantity of salt right! This might be a good one to start with if you have never cooked a proper Bhaji before.

Cabbage Stir Fry Bhaji

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Serves 2


2 cups shredded cabbage (coarsely chopped will do!)
1 Small Potato, cut into small cubes (optional)
1/2 cup Peas (optional)

2 Green Chillies, Chopped (adjust acc to taste)
1/2 tblsp Oil

4-6 Curry Leaves
1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
a Pinch of Hing (Asafoetida)
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1-2 tblsp Grated coconut (Optional)

1 tblsp Chopped fresh Coriander
1/2 tsp Sugar (Optional)


Heat the oil in a pan, when hot add the mustard seeds.

As they begin to splutter add the curry leaves, Hing, chillies & Turmeric Powder.

Next add the potatoes & fry for a minute. Add the cabbage and sauté.

Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the Peas, salt and grated coconut. Cook covered till the cabbage & potato are completely cooked.

Add the chopped coriander, mix well, cover & cook for just another minute before turning off the flame.

Serve hot with Chapati or as a side dish with rice.

My Notes: This is my favourite way of having cabbage, a vegetable that is hated sometimes because of the strong smell. But the combination with potatoes & peas works very well although you can make the same bhaji using only cabbage.

If you do have a problem with the smell, the fresh coriander added at the last minute will solve it for you, making it aromatic.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Julie & Julia and Delia (With Gratin Dauphinoise)

This must be first time ever that I was struggling to finish reading a book. As I have mentioned earlier in numerous posts, I can read anything & everything, then why did I have to keep counting the pages remaining, and wondering when I will be able to reach the end?

The answer might lie in the way Julie Powell writes -  totally haphazard, without any organisation or sequence and too many unnecessary and minute details.

I am talking about Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell which was the Book Club’s pick this month, well actually last month. As you can see I am quite late with the post here, but my hectic schedule for the past couple of weeks combined with my lack of interest in the book after a few pages, are to be blamed.

The prior knowledge that this book didn't really have a story but it only chronicled the experiences of someone who work in a government organisation by the day & tries to emulate the legendary Julia Child when she is cooking, did not help either.

I would not have even minded that, if her experiences were something out of the ordinary or even if they were written with a little more flair or if the food references were appealing. I did not find any of these in the book and so was totally uninspired in both the culinary & the literary sense.

I am only hoping the movie is much better than the book itself because I really want to see it, the sole reason being Meryl Streep, who I find absolutely amazing.

Although the book didn't inspire me to cook anything, the mention of Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ led me to try something french.

I have spoken about this book earlier. This has become for me what MtAoFC was to Julie Powell I guess. I have been trying out recipes one by one although I dont have a set target like her. I am hoping to make all the recipes given in the book.

I found this Gratin Dauphinoise recipe in this vegetarian collection by Delia Smith. See, now do you see the reason behind the title of this post, I just couldnt resist it!

The first thing that struck me about the recipe was its simplicity but still I knew that with this combination of the ingredients, the end result was sure to be delicious. The original recipe was to serve 4-6 people, I scaled it down to make it for 2.

Gratin Dauphinoise

Picture 123

Serves 2 as a side dish


1 Large Potato or 2 medium ones
1 small clove of garlic, crushed & chopped finely
30 ml Cream

30 ml Milk
1 tblsp Butter + extra for greasing
Salt & Pepper
Some nutmeg

Pre heat the oven to 150 deg C. Generously butter a baking dish, approx 4” in size, and keep ready.

Wash & peel the potato. Slice it very thinly preferably using a mandolin or the slicing blade of a grater. I dont have a mandolin and my grater badly needs to be replaced as its gone very blunt, so I achieved the impossible of sorts by slicing it by hand with a knife. Although the slices were not comparable to mandolin ones, they did nicely.

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Keep these slices immersed in cold water to get rid of some of the starch. Drain and then wipe them dry on a kitchen towel.

Arrange some potato slices in the baking dish, slightly overlapping. Sprinkle some crushed garlic, salt & Pepper.

Arrange the next set of slices and repeat the process until all the slices are used up.

End with a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Now, mix the cream & milk together and pour into the baking dish.

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Lightly sprinkle some freshly grated nutmeg over this. Dot the surface with the butter and bake in the pre heated oven on the top most rack for about 1.5 hours.

Yes, you read that right. It is 1 1/2 hours, it takes that long for the potatoes to cook to perfection, with the flavour of garlic permeating and the cream & butter working their magic.

This being such a rich dish, I served this alongside a soup, the recipe for which is coming soon. Together they made a very hearty dinner for us.

My Notes:

Although I scaled down the recipe, I also used a bit of judgement on my part when using the ingredients, so follow accordingly. This can easily be turned into a main dish by just increasing the quantity. I wouldn't really mind it on its own if I can ignore the amount of calories in it.

It was really delicious and made me understand why Julia stressed so much on the butter & the cream in most of her recipes. They really do wonders!