Wednesday 28 April 2010

Peanut Butter cookies for the blog


“It has to go on the blog this time at any cost!” She thought. She had made them a lot of times before this, but somehow never went around to publish it on her blog. The excuse being the classic one – lack of good photographs. But today she was going to make sure she had snaps, in fact she was going a step further & taking step by step pictures. These were always a hit on the blog.

She switched on the oven to pre heat & just as she started to sieve the flour Rohan, her 4 year old son, came running in the kitchen.

”What are you doing mum? Can I have some chocolates now, pleaaase!” he said.

“No, its almost lunch time for you, so no snacks now. And please go & play with your toys & stop disturbing me for some time.” She said yanking off the strap of the camera from his hands.  She somehow managed to take a snap of the butter – sugar mixture.

She called out to Vikram to take care of Rohan till she baked the cookies. Lunch was all ready and waiting so she could finally concentrate on the cookies or rather the photographing procedure.

She prepared the dough, made out the small balls and arranged them on the lined cookie sheet. They went in to the oven to be baked and she turned her attention towards her son.  It was unusually silent in the living room she thought.

When she peered in,  Vikram was engrossed in the newspaper and Rohan was fidgeting with the laptop. She somehow got him to let go of the computer and sat with him to read his favourite book just as the oven sounded to tell her that the cookies were ready.

Rohan heard the sound too and was all excited about having his favourite cookies but was promptly warned off that they were too hot to eat yet and anyway he had to have his lunch first, “And I have to get the snaps.” thought Shobha.

Shobha arranged the cookies on the mesh to cool down and started getting the lunch. She could take the final photos after lunch, once the cookies were completely cooled down. She carried the food to the table and started arranging everything as Vikram came in and sat. She called out to Rohan but there was no answer. She went looking for him for the umpteenth time in the day. There was no sign of him anywhere and she even looked in the bathroom. When she didn't find him even there, she started to panic. Where can he be?

Vikram joined in the search too and he discovered that the door to the garden in the back was left open. He rushed out to see if Rohan was in the garden and Shobha ran out too, but they couldnt find him. She suddenly realised why she was so against getting a ground floor house with a garden at the back and easy access to the road from there. She somehow felt that Rohan must have come out to play and then wandered off. The thought made her cry and she started sobbing uncontrollably.

”Are you crying because I finished off all your cookies, mum or that I made a mess in the store room?” Asked an innocent voice. Shobha and Vikram turned around to find Rohan munching on the last Peanut Butter Cookie that Shobha had made and was yet to photograph.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out a brand new event, Of Chalks and Chopsticks, hosted by Aquadaze. I am hoping to revive my supposed writing skills through this event. Thanks a lot for thinking of this Sra, Sandeepa & of course Aquadaze!

Here is the recipe (from Williams-Sonoma Cookies) for the cookies.


Peanut Butter Cookies

Picture 073

Makes about 36


1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup creamy Peanut Butter
1 Egg

1 tsp Vanilla essence
1 1/3 cup Plain flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda

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

Combine together the butter, both the sugars, peanut butter, egg and vanilla essence in a mixing bowl. Beat them until well blended.

Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.  Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours for the dough to get firm.

Pre heat the oven to 180 deg C. Grease 2 baking sheets or line them with baking paper.

Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. You can dampen your hands while doing this so that the dough doesn't stick.

Picture 071

Dip a fork in flour and then press lightly on each ball to flatten it slightly. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until the they start to brown.

Let the cookies cool on the pan for sometime and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

My Notes: The cookies are deliciously crunchy and if you are someone who doesn't like peanut butter too much, these cookies might convert you. The original recipe also decorates these cookies with streaks of melted chocolate. To do this, let the cookies cool down completely. And then melt some chocolate in a microwave or in a double boiler, fill it in a piping bag and then fill in the alternate grooves made by the fork on the cookies. I skipped this step since the cookies were perfect on their own.

Monday 26 April 2010

Cooking for Kids – Round up

The weather is getting better here. Although even as I am typing this, I can see dark clouds gathering around. But the temperature is soaring and its not freezing cold any more so even the occasional drizzle is welcome now. In fact its great to watch the new leaves glistening in the rain now that spring is here.

I dont really have a problem with the cold weather, it has its own charm. Having hot & spicy food while the heater keeps you warm and you sit cosily wrapped up, is one of the things I love about winter. The one thing that I dont like at all is the lack of colour when you go out. All you can see are the black, brown, grey and such dark coloured heavy coats and jackets with a red or olive green visible only once in a while.

But as the temperature starts rising the colours come out. All imaginable and even the unimaginable (bright orange, fluorescent green, shocking pink etc) ones. The High street specially looks very colourful these days and its a great feeling to just watch everyone roaming around with ice creams etc in their hands.

Anyway getting back to the post in hand, thank you everyone for your contribution to this edition of the Cooking for Kids event. This is an event started by Sharmi of Neivedyam and the event had a stop over here at Taste buds for this month.

The theme was Filling Breakfast and here are the tasty entries I received.

Deepa (Hamaree Rasoi) sends in a very appealing Hazelnut spread flower.


Priya (Mharo Rajasthan’s Recipes) has sent multiple entries, all delicious looking & tempting. 

Aloo Matar KachoriPohe With Bhujiya 

Hare Moong Ka CheelaPyaaz Ki Kachori 

Eggless Pancakes with Cinnamon Apples Topping

1.  Aloo Matar Ki Kachori
2.  Pohe
3. Hare Moong ka Cheela
4. Pyaaz ki Kachori
5. Eggless Pancakes with Cinnamon Apples.

Deepa (Foodlyrics) sends in Bread Upma.


Sonia (Slice n Spice of Life) makes Eggless chocolate muffins for the event.


Vidya (Vidhu’s Kitchen) sends in 3 different options.



PaneerSandwich ButterDosa


1. Paneer Sandwich

2. Butter Dosa

3. Fruit and Milk Parfait

Cooking Foodie sends in multiple entries too 

kadak Muthiya upload 2 Khatta Dhokla upload

rock toast upload Russian Sandwiches upload

Bateta nu shaak upload 

1. Kadak Muthiya
2. Khatta Dhokla
3. Rava Toast
4. Russian sandwiches
5. Bateta nu shak


Manjula Ananth a non blogger sends in Banana Muffin. In her own words:

I can imagine how nerve wracking it is to decide on a healthy breakfast for kids and make it look interesting for them. I enjoy cooking for my kids and am forever thinking of new things to interest them..Bananas are very healthy for kids but its not something my kids love so i end up making banana muffins for them which surprisingly they love. I am sending the recipe for the same.





1/ 2 cup walnuts or chopped almonds(optional)

250 gms flour

150 gms white sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

110 gms butter- melted and cooled

3 bananas mashed(over ripe)

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp vanilla essence (optional)

pls note that the bananas must be over ripe. i.e. keep it aside till the peel turns black.



In a bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder , baking soda, salt, nuts and cinnamon. In another medium sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, melted butter and vanilla essence.
With a spatula gently combine the wet ingredients and the dry ones. Add chopped walnuts or almonds and fold the mixture gently.

Pre heat oven at 200 degrees for abt five minutes. Spoon muffins into muffin trays. Fill it only 3/4 as the muffin will rise.
Bake at 180 degrees for abt 15-20 mins.

This Breakfast party is joined by my contribution of Lahipeeth, a simple, quick and tasty option.

Picture 042

So there you are, delicious breakfast options for not only the kids but for you too!

Saturday 24 April 2010

Pantry Essential – Lahipeeth (Alla Hittu)

As the title suggests, this is something that I always have in my pantry. Now the reason that this is such a considerable fact is that it is not available here in London, not even in the Indian stores, where otherwise you get almost everything.  So how do I make sure that I always have this in store? I get it from India whenever I visit of course. And I get loads of it. This is always on my ‘to buy’ list whenever I go to India or if some one is visiting from there.

One of the fondest memories of my childhood consist of the evenings spent at my Grandparents place, where my grandmother used to prepare these delicious snacks in a jiffy which were not very complicated to make but were lip smacking delicious all the same. Very simple, with the simplest of the ingredients, the key word here, as is evident, is Simple. One of the best examples is the Lahi Peeth (Marathi) or Alla Hittu (Kannada).

Picture 015

Lahi (Marathi) or Allu (kannada) means Popcorn in the respective languages and Peeth or Hittu means flour. Thus translated Lahipeeth or Alla Hittu simply means flour of popcorn. But this popcorn
is different from the popular popcorn, it is actually made from Jawar (Sorghum) and not corn itself.

The process of making Lahipeeth is as interesting as the end product is tasty.

The popcorn is made using Jawar (Sorghum) by heating a large Kadai and then popping the sorghum by roasting them. At the same time the Kadai has to be covered so that the 'popcorn' dont pop out!

The freshly made popcorn is great to eat as it is, but it can be made into a savoury snack item by tempering it with Mustard seeds, cumin seeds, Turmeric, Curry leaves & chillies and then seasoning with salt.

And then

the popcorn is ground into a flour using the Beesuvakallu (Chakki in Hindi, Grinding stone). This would be done in the afternoons where all the ladies in village would gather. Some made the allu, some grinding it, some preparing the snack etc, turning the task into a social get together. Nowadays though this is done in advanced machines on a large scale basis and the Lahipeeth is available in 'packets'. These packets are available in most of the stores in Pune and some specialty stores in Bombay too. 

I always get these packets from Pune from this store, R P Vaidya, most of the times. This store also supplies me with many other ‘essential’ items that I get from India such as Papad, Kurdai (Sandige), Kanda – Lassun Masala, Bhajni etc.

There are various methods to enjoy Lahipeeth and here I am giving the sweet version.

Lahipeeth (Allahittu) – Sweet version

Picture 042

Take 1 cup of lahipeeth and add about 1 tablespoon sugar. To this add enough milk to make a paste, no too runny.  Mix well till the sugar is completely dissolved. Add some melted ghee (clarified butter). Mix properly and enjoy.

There are no fixed quantities here. Take as much lahipeeth as you want and adjust the sugar to your taste. The quantity of the milk has to be adjusted to get the desired consistency.


Another way is to proceed the same way as above but replace the sugar with Jaggery. Even though this one is also a sweet option, it tastes totally different than the above one.

My daughter S likes this a lot and so does GM actually. The ghee adds to the taste and is an important ingredient if you ask me. So dont skip it.


This goes to Cooking For Kids – Filling Breakfasts event, started by Sharmi and hosted here at Taste Buds this time.

Today is the last day to send in your entries so hurry up! The round up will be posted early next week.

Friday 16 April 2010

Spicy Beetroot & coconut soup

There has been a long silence on this blog and as is the case with conversations, it is a little difficult to figure out a way to break the silence & start talking once again. I guess the best way to start would be to explain why there was this long break here.

There has been a series of illness at home for the past few weeks. It started with simple cold & cough & went on to graduate into a full blown viral infection for both me & Shreya. April, as I have discovered, is a month I should be wary of from now on, because I had almost the same problems last year in April & the previous one too! Nothing to do with ‘time kharab hai’ etc but simple change in the climate I suppose, since this is the transition month where it is still cold but is getting warmer. Add to that the pollen, rains and a long weekend, I mean you have to go out on a long weekend whatever the weather, right?

Anyway to cut a long story short, I haven't been able to cook anything, nor eat anything for that matter. The closest I came to cooking was this Khichadi sans Kadhi, which was put together in a hurry while GM was tending to S. I did get a chance to sample his cooking after a long time and I have secretly decided to give him more chance in the kitchen from now onwards, even when I am well.

This post had been in the drafts and since I didn't want to give you my ranting without a recipe, I am digging this one out.

The best thing about this soup is the colour. A deep shocking pink, its almost better than the way the soup tastes. I just wanted to keep looking at it.

Ever since the ‘realisation’ that we have to eat healthy had hit, I had bookmarked quite a few soup recipes. But this isn't one of the recipes I found. I admit I started to make one those recipes but realised that apart from Beetroot I hardly had anything else that the recipe called for. So while I set out to make it as per the bookmarked recipe, I ended up making something totally different.

Spicy Beetroot & Coconut Soup

Picture 00611

Serves 2


  • 3 cups grated beetroot
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Chilli powder (Optional)
  • 1-2 tblsp olive oil
  • Lime juice (as per taste)
  • Salt & Pepper

To be ground into a paste

  • 2-3 red chillies
  • 6-8 curry leaves
  • 1” piece of ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2-3 tblsp fresh coriander leaves


Get the paste ready by grinding all the ingredients, using a little water if necessary.

In a deep pan, heat olive oil & add cumin seeds. As they begin to sizzle, add the chopped onions, reduce the flame to medium and fry till the onions turn translucent.

Now add the ground paste and continue to fry for 2-3 min.

Add the chopped tomatoes, salt & chilli powder if using. Cook until the tomatoes turn soft.

Add the grated Beetroot and stir well, cook for about 4-5 minutes.

Add the coconut milk, bring to a boil and then simmer until the beetroot is cooked.

If necessary, add more milk, the normal one.

Once the beetroot is cooked, turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Using a hand blender or a processor, blend this mixture to desired consistency. It will be a slightly thick soup and will not be very smooth either.

Return the blended soup to the heat. Add salt & pepper as per taste and heat through till just boiling. Switch off the heat and add lime juice if using.

Mix well & serve hot or warm topped with small cucumber cubes. The cucumber provides the crunch in place of croutons.

Picture 017

My Notes: I used the coconut  milk powder for the coconut milk and could get the desiccated coconut effect in the soup. I was somehow a little uncomfortable with the beetroot & coconut combination, it might have been because of the powder I used. I intend to try this again with either fresh coconut milk or at least the canned one.

On another note, the Cooking For Kids event, as you all know has been extended to the 24th April and this deadline is fast approaching. Please send in your entries and the roundup will be posted in the last week of April.

Saturday 3 April 2010

Shortbread Triangles

This month’s read for the Book Club was Sophie Kinsella’s Can you Keep a secret? While I am not particularly a fan of this genre of books called the chic-lit (I am more of a mystery, thriller, espionage reader), I was intrigued when I had read about this book. Her earlier Shopaholic series had gone by, with me barely knowing about them. 

I knew what to expect when  I started reading this book. Nothing heavy just plain entertainment. I was glued to it till I finished it. It is about Emma Corrigan who is a normal ‘nothing-special’ kind of a girl who like any one else has some secrets. Nothing in the league of CIA, MI5 or any other world changing issues but simple facts about herself that she has hidden from the people in her life. Her boyfriend doesn't know that she is a size 12 instead of 8. Her friend from the office doesn't know that she hates crochet. Her flat mate doesn't know that she borrows her clothes when she is not around. Her office colleague doesn't know that she pours orange juice on her plant everytime she is irritated and so on. And then one day she spills out all these tidbits to a complete stranger and the story is all about how that changes her life completely in all aspects. For the better in many ways, but not before she goes through the usual nail biting, tense moments about what will happen and how she will cope.

The stranger turns out to be her top boss and this leads to a lot of hilarious  & embarrassing situations for Emma. The biggest one being when all her secrets are revealed on the TV accidently by Jack Harper. But it turns out that he has his own vital secret too!

I couldnt help but think of Bridget Jones while reading this book, specially in the initial chapters when nothing is going right for Emma!
It was quite an enjoyable book and a good change from the ‘serious’ stuff that I am used to reading most of the times.

Scotland was a central part of the story – Emma is returning from Scotland when she tells all her secrets on the plane, Jack Harper’s secret involves the city of Glasgow in Scotland etc. So I made these Scotch Shortbread triangles.

But there is a secret about this too! When I tried to make them the first time some time last week, I failed miserably. I don't know how I made a mistake but the end result was too crumbly and wouldn't hold shape at all, although it tasted great. But I made them again 3 days back & this time they turned out very good. Not perfect yet but I will keep working on that.

Shortbread Triangles

Picture 195


1 & 3/4 cups Plain Flour

1/2 cup Butter (chilled)
1/4 cup Caster Sugar + extra for sprinkling (Increase if you like it sweeter)
a pinch of salt


Pre heat the oven to 150 deg C. Keep an 8” round fluted pan ready.

In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar and salt together.

Add the cold butter to this and mix with your fingertips till the mixture looks like bread crumbs.

Now bring together the mixture to form a soft dough. Press this dough lightly into the pan with your fingertips.

Using a sharp, thin knife mark the dough into 8 equal portions and prick with a fork all over. Sprinkle some sugar on this and then bake in the pre heated oven for about 50 min or until the edges start to brown up.

Remove from the oven and cut along the markings to give you 8 shortbread triangles. Let them cool in the pan for sometime and then later transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Picture 188

My Notes:

As I have mentioned, my second attempt was far better than the first one but I still feel it could have been better. After I had mixed the butter in the flour it was still a little dry and I could not make a dough out of it. So I had to add a few drops of Milk to it.

The shortbreads were delicious but the texture could be better so thats what I will be aiming for next time.

Thursday 1 April 2010

Cooking For Kids

Thank you for sending in your entries for the Cooking For Kids event. I am extending the deadline till 24th April 2010.


So now theres more time for you to come up with delicious breakfast options for the kids. I am looking forward to receiving a lot of entries so get cooking!