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

 Picture 049

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.