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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Red Velvet muffins ( with natural beetroot coloring )

I had been eyeing the 'Red velvet cake' for quite sometime. I know the blogsphere is choc a block with 'Red Velvet cake' recipes and mine would only add to the clutter but i kind of treated it as a personal milestone . After buying the food coloring and testing it out, i realized that it needs quite a lot to get that vivid red color. But since i have a toddler at home, i was reluctant to use the synthetic stuff. The chocolate & beetroot cake made me realize that beetroot can be used to color this cake. The quantity of beetroot needs to be much more than the quantity of cocoa powder as the chocolate tends to mask the color. Though the muffins turned out great, the color wasn't exactly red rather a deep pink color. I guess its a trade-off between looks and health.

Read on for the recipe:



















Preparation Time - 35-40 mins

Ingredients- Butter ( 1/4 cup ), sugar ( 1/4 cup ), eggs ( 1 no ), all purpose flour ( 1/2 cups ), baking powder ( 1/2 tsp ), cocoa powder ( 1/2 tsp ), beetroot puree ( 2/3 cup ), vanilla essence ( 10-12 drops ).

Preparation - Powder the sugar in a food processor.

Take the butter ( at room temperature ) in a mixing bowl and add the powdered sugar. Beat it nicely with a whisk till it turns a few shades lighter in colour.

Break the egg in a separate bowl and whisk till it forms soft peaks.

Add the whisked egg and vanilla essence into the mixing bowl and mix them nicely.

Add the beetroot puree, little by little so that it mixes completely with the batter ( Do not add all of it in one go ).

Take the flour and cocoa powder in a seive and add to the above batter slowly, a little at a time (This trick incorporates an extra amount of air into the batter which is very important in making the cake/muffins very spongy). Add the baking powder to the last quantity of the flour being added to the batter. Mix well. (We need to be quick from this point as the baking powder starts working as soon as it comes in contact with moisture)

Take a muffin tray and spray the cups with a non-stick cooking oil/brush with butter. Sprinkle some flour.

Pour the batter into it and shake it gently.

Cooking: Pre-heat an oven to 170 degees celcius. Put the muffin tray into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Prick the centre of the muffins with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the muffins are done. Else pop it back into the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Allow to cool down. Decorate with cream cheese frosting or serve as it is.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pudina Suji Kheeri ( mint semolina kheer )

Semolina kheer is also known as the poor man's kheer in Orissa. It is usually prepared with roasted semolina, sugar and water/milk and is conspicuous by the absence of dry fruits. It features more on the everyday meal menu rather than being reserved for special occasions. Some people also use it as the substitute for Cerelac/Farex as it is easy on the digestive system and costs only a fraction of the former.

However i have a lot of warm childhood memories associated with this dish. It is a simple dish which needs a little magic to make it special. Here i have added fresh mint leaves which break the sweet monotony of the dish and give it a zing. Orange zest/lemon grass are two other ingredients which i normally use to transform this dish. I have used the medium coarse semolina but one can also use the coarse/superfine ne.

















Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients - 2 cups boiled milk, 3 heaped tsp roasted semolina, 4-5 tsp sugar, 2 tbs milk powder/1 tbs condensed milk, 10-12 drops vanilla essence, 1 tbs finely chopped mint leaves.

Preparation- Bring the milk to boil in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add the sugar and vanilla essence.

Add the roasted semolina and stir continuously to remove lumps, if any. Boil it for 5 minutes.

Add the milk powder/condensed milk and mix thoroughly. Finally add the mint leaves and remove from heat. Keep it covered for 2-3 minutes.

Serve chilled/warm .



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Santula

Santula is one of the most popular vegetable dishes of Orissa. It is essentially a mixed vegetable preparation minus the spice which makes it easy to digest. Highly recommended for high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes, constipation, ulcer and postpartum patients, it is full of nutrients and dietary fiber. It is also popular as pani(water)-santula and khira-( milk )santula.

It is also consumed on vrat/osa bara days. The onion and garlic is replaced by jeera-lanka powder and ghee is used instead of oil for the tempering. I find it to be the best way to use/cook all the leftover/excess veggis from the week and hence one can usually find it on the Friday dinner menu at my home. But for best results( read taste) prepare with fresh vegetables.





















Preparation Time - 20-25 mins

Ingredients - chopped pumpkin ( 2 cups ), chopped green papaya ( 1 cup ), chopped string beans ( 1 cup ), chopped ridge gourd ( 1 cup ), green peas ( 1 cup ), boiled kabuli chana ( 1 -2 cups ), chopped spinach or any green leaves ( 1 1/2  cup), chopped raw banana ( 1 cup ), chopped potato ( 1 cup ), finely chopped onion ( 1 no., small ), garlic flakes ( 6-7 nos ), dry red chilli ( 2 nos ), salt to taste, oil ( 3 tsp ), turmeric ( 1/4 tsp ), pancha phutana ( 1/3 tsp, optional ), chopped coriander for garnish.

Cooking: Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add all the vegetables and green leaves along with salt and turmeric.

Cover with a heavy lid and cook till vegetables soften. Stir at regular intervals to avoid sticking to the bottom of the wok.

Heat the remaining oil in a tempering pan. Add the red chilli and pancha-phutana.

Follow with the onions and cook till translucent. Finally add the crushed garlic flakes. Fry for 5-10 seconds and then pour over the cooked vegetables. Garnish with coriander and remove from the flame.

Serve hot with rotis/paratha.




Cheesy Baked Omlette

This is one of my lazy recipes.



















Preparation time - 10 mins

Ingredients - 2 eggs, 1/2 cup grated plain cheese, 1 jalapeno, 3-4 garlic flakes, cracked pepper, pinch of dried oregano, pinch of dried rosemary, salt to taste, 1-2 tsp olive oil.

Cooking - Preheat oven to 160 degrees.

Take a small round baking tray. Add the olive oil and rub on sides and bottom.

Break the two eggs into the baking dish. Sprinkle cheese, chopped jalapenos, crushed/chopped garlic and the remaining spices.

Put in the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes. ( remove earlier if you want yolks to be a little runny/soft)

Remove from baking tray and eat with toasted bread.



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chingudi-kakharu majee chadchadi ( shrimp-pumpkin seeds fry )

Oriya preparations are essentially simple. The frugal use of ingredients defy the astonishing recipes conjured by many a home cooks. This shrimp recipe is a very good example of their culinary prowess. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with zinc but they are usually thrown away by people. Some do use the dried seeds in badis but when combined with shrimps, it adds a new dimension to a otherwise plain old chinguri bhaja (fried shrimp). Here is the recipe:




















Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients - small fresh / dried shrimps ( 1 cup ), pumpkin seeds ( with the skin ) (1/2 cup), dry red chilli/chilli flakes ( to taste), green chilli ( 1 no ) garlic flakes ( 3-4 nos ), oil ( 1-2 tsp ), salt ( to taste ).

Preparation - Wash and clean fresh shrimps. Or if using dry ones wash and soak for 10 mins.

Remove the seeds from the pumpkin and wash to remove any flesh/fibres sticking to them. Dry under the fan or in the sunlight for 1-2 hours.

Slit the garlic flakes and green chilli into long pieces.

Cooking - Heat oil in a wok. Add the shrimp along with the chilli flakes and fry till crisp.

Add the pumpkin seeds and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and green chilli, mix them and remove from flame.

Serve with Pakhala or white rice.

Note : Transfer to a food processor and buzz it for 1 sec into a coarse powder. This works very well when combined with pakhala.




Monday, August 26, 2013

Beetroot & chocolate Cake

Beetroot is not exactly my favorite vegetable. I know it looks lovely and gives that delectable pink color. But after watching Nigella's Beetroot soup I had been planning to incorporate it in my cooking. After googling a few times, i read this interesting piece of information about beetroots and chocolate. Till date i usually thought of using beetroots in a savory rather than a sweet preparation. I was quite apprehensive about this cake but it turned out very well. The beetroot gives it a rather earthy flavour. I had planned to use 1 cup of the beetroot puree but reduced the quantity at the last
moment as i did not want my little one to make a fuss over it. It was suprising when he happily gobbled it up.

Here goes the recipe:




















Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients- Butter ( 100 gm ), sugar ( 1 cup ), eggs ( 3 nos ), buttermilk ( 2/3 cup ), all purpose flour ( 2 cups ), baking powder ( 1 tsp ), cocoa powder ( 3 tsp ), beetroot puree ( 4 tsp ), vanilla essence ( 1/2 tsp ).

For frosting - 1/2 cup cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 1 cup powdered/castor sugar.

Preparation - Powder the sugar in a food processor.

Take the butter ( at room temperature ) in a mixing bowl and add the powdered sugar. Beat it nicely with a whisk till it turns a few shades lighter in colour.

Break the eggs in a separate bowl and whisk them till it forms soft peaks.

Add the whisked eggs and vanilla essence into the mixing bowl and mix them nicely.

Add the beetroot puree, little by little so that it mixes completely with the batter ( Do not add all of it in one go ).

Take the flour and cocoa powder in a seive and add to the above batter slowly, a little at a time (This trick incorporates an extra amount of air into the batter which is very important in making the cake very spongy).

Alternately add the buttermilk to this batter . Add the baking powder to the last quantity of the flour being added to the batter. Mix well.

(We need to be quick from this point as the baking powder starts working as soon as it comes in contact with moisture)

Take a 8 inch round baking tray and spray it with a non-stick cooking oil/brush with butter. Sprinkle some flour.

Pour the batter into it and shake it gently.

For frosting - Take the cream cheese and butter (at room temp) into a mixing bowl and beat nicely.

Finally add the sugar and mix thoroughly. Allow to cool for half hour before using.

Cooking: Pre-heat an oven to 175 degees celcius. Put the cake into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Prick the centre of the cake with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Else pop it back into the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Allow to cool down.

Cut the cake hotizontally ( along its length )into two halves. Spread a thin layer of frosting on one half. Refrigerate it for 30 mins. Remove from the fridge and do a second layer of frosting. This helps in getting a smooth finish. Place the other cake half over the frosting. ( Spread a layer of melted dark chocolate on top if desired )

Take a knife and dip it in hot water. Wipe and cut into generous portions( the edges of the cake pieces will remain clean and sharp ) and serve. Store the remaining pieces in an airtight container.

Note: The butter-sugar and eggs should be beaten separately as it helps in getting more air into the batter.

Note - I baked the beetroots in the oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes ( wrapped in a aluminium foil with a drizzle of oil ) before removing the skin and pureeing them.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Soya masala Dosa

Masala dosa happens to be one of our staple breakfast items. We usually end up trying out variations to the regular potato masala like the panner stuffed dosa, egg bhurji stuffed dosa, upma stuffed dosa (MLA). This time we decided to stuff it with soya kheema ( mashed soya nuggets ). This not only reduces the starch/carbs content which makes it a healthier option for diabetics, but the increased protein content makes it more filling. Here is the recipe:



















Preparation time: 15-20 mins

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cup boiled soya nuggets, 1 medium sized potatoes ( boiled and peeled ), 1 tsp grated garlic, 1 tsp grated ginger, 1 medium sized onion ( finely chopped ), mustard and cumin seeds for tempering, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/5 tsp turmeric, 2-3 tsp chopped coriander leaves, 3-4 tbs green peas, 3-4 tsp oil, dosa batter for 3-4 dosas, salt to taste.

Cooking: Heat 3-4 tsp oil in a wok. Add mustard-cumin seeds when the oil starts smoking. Follow with chopped onion and the grated ginger and garlic. Fry for 4-5 mins till the raw smell goes away.

Add green peas and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the boiled soya nuggets and fry for 3-4 minutes.

Add the mashed potato along with chilli powder, salt and turmeric. Fry for 2-3 mins. Add the chopped coriander. Fry for 1 minute. Remove from heat and keep aside.

Heat a tawa. Season it with 2-3 drops of oil. Wipe off excess oil with a paper towel / soft cloth. Sprinkle a little water to check if the tawa lets out a slight sizzle. At this stage take a ladle full of the batter and spread over the tawa with a circular motion.

Spread the soya-potato batter at the center of the dosa.



















Fold it from both sides.

Serve hot with chutney or sambar.




      

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Product Review : Mala's Strawberry Crush

A few days ago I was looking for strawberries at the supermarket. But could not find any, not even frozen ones. It was then my neighbor suggested this awesome Strawberry Crush. It the closest to natural strawberries , she claimed.
Feeling a little skeptical but with a glimmer of hope, i trudged on to find it. And I did find it at my nearest Total Superstore ( you will get the entire range at Nilgiri's ). It turned out to be even better than i had expected.




I used it in my lemonade, lassi, milkshake and sherbats. The added tang and color was too good. Made strawberry muffins and they too turned out yummy ( review coming out next week ). I have been using it almost everyday at a topping for museli or even as a bread spread. Priced at Rs 125 for 700 ml, it is a steal deal.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Rajma Chawal ( without onion and garlic )

Rajma-chawal remains one of my favorites right from my childhood days. I love this amazingly tangy curry with copious amounts of onion in it. But since it cannot be savored on certain no onion-no garlic days, I have been planning to find a way to substitute the onions. The current onion crisis which has hit us hard seemed to be the perfect excuse for some action.

I have used ginger and cumin liberally to get the desired pungency, and lots of yogurt and tomato puree for an added tang. Even the amount of chilli powder is more than I usually add .The sweetness provided by the sugar balances it out and all the flavors come together beautifully.




















Preparation Time - 30-40 mins

Ingredients - Rajma/kidney beans ( 1 1/2 cups ), yogurt ( 5-6 tbs ), tomato puree ( 5-6 tbs ), whole spices ( 1 small bay leaf, 4-5 cloves, 1 inch long cinnamon, 1 tsp cumin seeds ), ginger ( 1 1/2 inch julienned ), red chilli powder ( 1 tsp ), cumin powder ( 1 tsp ), coriander powder ( 1 tsp ), turmeric ( 1 tsp ), sugar ( 1 tsp ), oil ( 2-3 tsp ), salt to taste.

Preparation - Wash and soak the rajma overnight.

Transfer to a pressure cooker, add salt and half of the turmeric and cook for 1-2 whistles. They should be cooked but left with a little bite ( not too soft ).

Take the remaining turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder in a bowl. Add 3-4 tbs of water and make into a paste.

Beat the yogurt lightly and keep aside.

Cooking: Heat the oil in a wok. Add the whole spices and then follow with the ginger. Fry for 1-2 mins.

Add the masala paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add a little water if it is getting too dry.

Add tomato puree, sugar and salt, and cook till it thickens and darkens in color.

Add the yogurt and stir it for 3-4 minutes till it starts leaving the sides of the wok.

Finally add the boiled rajma along with 1/2 - 2/3 cup water. Allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes. Remove from flame.

For the Basmati rice -

Take 1 cup of washed Basmati rice in a cooker. Add 3/4 cup milk and 1 cup of water. Sprinkle salt and 1/4 tsp of ghee over it. Close lid and cook for 10-12 minutes on a medium flame.












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Sending this to Priya's event CWS-Cumin : August 2013 .





Thursday, August 22, 2013

Vegetable-Soya Biryani

Nothing beats the comfort and warmth of a one pot meal. And biryani happens to be one of my favorite ones. Chicken, mutton, prawn, vegetable, soybeans or even kabuli chana, i enjoy all the varieties that come with this awesome dish. The Hyderbadi 'Dum' style of making biryani is the closest to my heart. And i have managed to replicate the results by using a presure cooker instead of a handi. 

One can get very close to the 'hyderabadi biryani' by half boiling the rice in a vessel and then transferring it to a pressure cooker ( with the whistle taken off ) along with the 3/4th cooked chicken for the final dish. But i always end up making it a one step process due to shortage of time. 

When we moved to Blore, my husband used to get very nostalgic about Hyderabad and that made him frequent 'Ammi's biryani'. It is the best we have had till date in Blore. and they deliver at your doorstep too. But the effects do show up on your waistline and that made him stop. 

Home made biryani allows more control over the quantity of ghee and spices used. Plus one can cook the chicken/mutton/vegetables/soya and keep it in the fridge for 4-5 days and make some mouth-watering biryani whenever desired. Vegetable biryani can provide the right balance of carbohydrates and fats along with dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This time i combined the vegetables with some soya chunks to enrich the protein content of my meal. 

Here is the recipe:


















Preparation Time - 30 mins.

Ingredients - Basmati rice ( 2 1/2 cups ), milk ( 1 cup ), chopped carrot ( 1 /2 cup), chopped beans (1/2 cup), chopped onion ( 1 no, medium sized ), boiled soya granules (1 cup), green peas (1/2 cup), coriander powder ( 1 tsp ), cumin powder ( 2/3 tsp), chilli powder (1 tsp), turmeric ( 1/3 tsp), garam masala powder ( 1/6 tsp), ghee (2 tsp), oil (2 tsp), curd ( 3 tbs), ginger garlic paste ( 1 1/ 2 tsp), 1 inch cinnamon stick, 1 green cardamon, 1/2 of a mace, 1 star anise, 4-5 cloves, salt to taste.

Preparation - Take the curd, chilli powder, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix together. Add the boiled soya granules, green peas and chopped vegetables. Mix and allow to marinate for 30 mins.

Cooking - Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the chopped onion and fry till translucent. Add the marinated ingredients and cook for 5-6 minutes to get rid of the raw smell and half cook the vegetables.

Put a pressure cooker on the flame. Add 1 tsp of ghee and fry the whole spices in it for 20-30 seconds. Wash the rice and add to the cooker. Pour in the milk. Add enough water to cover the rice and an extra 1 inch above it. Stir in the cooked vegetables and soya . Drizzle the remaining ghee on top and close the cooker lid.

It takes about 10-12 minutes or 1-2 whistles to cook through. Remove from flame and allow to stand for 10 mins.

Serve hot with Dahi pacchidi/phalahari raita.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kanika

Kanika is a fragrantly sweet pulao that is traditionally prepared in Orissa. It finds a place of pride among the 'chappan bhog' or 56 items that form part of Lord Jagannath's menu. Before the fried rice and biryani became popular in Orissa, it used to be served at all wedding feasts, picnics and family gatherings. It is stronger in flavor than a traditional pulao and also a little sweet. Usually prepared with arua chaula 'raw rice' ( one can find it outside Odisa by the names Ambebhog/GovindBhog ), one can replace it by any other aromatic rice ( Basmati for example ). Though these days it is usually prepared for offering as prasad, I have many a childhood memories of sampling it with some finger-licking mutton/chicken curry.



















Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients - Basmati rice ( 1 cup ), ghee ( 1 1/2 tsp ), raisins ( 10-12 nos), cashews ( 10-12 nos), whole spices ( 1/2 black cardamon( bada aleicha), 1 green cardamon (chotta aliecha), 1/2 inch long cinnamon ( dalchini), 2-3 cloves ( labanga), 1/4 of a mace (jaitri), 1 big bay leaf ( tejapatra) ), 1/6 tsp nutmeg powder, sugar ( 2-4 tsp ), salt to taste, 1/5 tsp turmeric.

Preparation - wash and soak rice for 1 hour. Drain all water and spread on a plate.

Sprinkle the turmeric over the moist and mix it gently with rice. Allow to dry for 1-2 hours in natural air circulation ( can also put it in the balcony but not under direct sunlight )

Cooking - Heat the ghee is a deep and thick bottomed vessel. Add the raisins and cashews. Fry till cashews swell up but do not burn them. Remove with slotted spoon and keep aside.

Add the whole spices and stir for 20 seconds. Add the dried rice and fry it gently for 3 minutes. Still better if you can gently toss it instead of stirring as with the latter one might end up with broken rice grains.

Add enough boiling water ( a little more than two cups in my case ) to cover the rice. Add salt. Allow to cook on a low to medium flame.

Stir gently at an interval of 4-5 mins. Once rice is almost done, add the sugar, nutmeg powder, cashews and raisins, and mix them gently with the rice. (Keep aside a few cashews and raisins to garnish later.)

Allow all the water to dry up. Remove from the flame.

Serve with mutton jholo or if vegetarian, go for channa dali-amba khatta.
















Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Almond Muffins

The baking bug has bitten me hard. I do find some excuse to bake something every other day. These are the almond muffins i couldn't resist after making the eggless nutmeg muffins which disappeared in a single day.


















Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients - All purpose flour ( 1 cup), butter ( 1/2 cup ), sugar ( 1/2 cup, powdered ), egg ( 1 no), almond meal ( 2/3 cup ), milk ( 1/4 cup ), baking powder ( 1/2 level tsp ), chopped almonds ( 1-2 tsp), almond oil ( 1 tsp ).

Preparation - Take the butter and almond oil in a mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar and beat well for 5 mins or till the mixture turns a few shades lighter.

Break egg into a separate bowl and beat well such that stiff peaks can be formed.
Stir gently into the butter-sugar mix. Add the milk also.( do not panic if you find a slight curdling at this stage )
Mix the flour, almond meal and baking powder together. Use a sieve to gently sift it into the batter in small batches. Mix gently till no lumps remain.

Grease a non-stick muffin tray. Pour into the molds till 2/3 full. Sprinkle chopped almonds on top.

Cooking - Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Put the tray inside and turn down heat to 160 degrees after 5 minutes. Bake for another 10 mins. Insert a toothpick at the center of muffin and check if it comes out clean. Else bake for another 5 mins.


Phalahari raita

This is a fruit raita i had made on Sankranti along with some vegetable biryani( w/o the onion and garlic ). Had it been a regular day, i would have paired it with some yummy Dahi Pacchidi.

The sweetness of the pomegranate offsets the acidic sourness of the fuji apples and black grapes, and the heat of the cumin-chilli powder, bringing together all the flavours. Add some fresh mint leaves for more zing.


















Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients - fresh yogurt ( 1 cup ), chopped apple ( 2 tbs ), pomegranate seeds ( 2 tbs ), black grapes ( de-seeded & peeled, 12-14 nos ), rock salt/regular salt to taste, jeera-lanka ( roasted cumin-red chili) powder ( 1/5 tsp ), sugar ( 1 tsp, optional ).

Preparation - Take the curd in a mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup water and beat well to remove lumps. Add salt, sugar and jeera-lanka powder. Mix well.

Add the fruits and mix them with the yogurt.

Garnish with some grapes and pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle some jeera-lanka powder on top. Serve cold.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Eggless Nutmeg Muffins

Baking supplies are difficult to come by in India. And even if you find them, they do not come cheap. A simple muffin tray would cost in the range of 500-700 bucks. Forget pastry sheets, even muffin liners come for 150 rupees a dozen at the cheapest. An imported cake mold could set one back by 1000-1500 bucks.

So when i chanced upon this non-stick muffin tray for Rs 167/- at Total Superstore i readily bought it. But decided to skip buying the liners. This also marks my first attempt at baking without eggs.















Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients - All purpose flour ( 1 1/2 cup), Fortune Rice bran oil ( 3/4 cup ), sugar ( 1/2 cup, powdered ), yogurt ( 3/4 cup ), condensed milk ( 4-6 tbs ), baking powder ( 1 1/2 level tsp ), nutmeg powder ( 1/2 tsp ).

Preparation - Take the oil in a mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar and beat well for 5 mins.

Add the condensed milk and yogurt. Beat well for another 5 mins.

Mix the flour, baking powder and nutmeg powder togather. Use a seive to gently sift it into the batter in small batches.

Mix gently till no lumps remain.

Grease a non-stick muffin tray. Pour into the molds till 2/3 full.

Cooking - Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Put the tray inside and turn down heat to 160 degrees after 5 minutes.

Bake for another 10 mins. Insert a toothpick at the centre of muffin and check if it comes out clean. Else bake for another 5 mins.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chenna paratha

This is a quick paratha recipe. I had some leftover chenna in the fridge after preparing a lip-smacking 'Chenna Tarkari' for lunch. So when dinner plans were dropped at the last moment due to an unusually heavy downpour, I decided to turn it into these delicious and wholesome parathas. And i have been hooked to them ever since. Unlike other stuffed paratha recipes, this does not require boiling, peeling, mincing, chopping or grating.















Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients - Whole wheat flour ( 1 1/2 cups), chenna ( 2/3 cup ), onion ( 1 small, chopped ), coriander leaves ( 1 tbs, chopped ), cumin powder ( 1/5 tsp ), red chilli powder ( 1/5 tsp ), green chilli ( 1 no, finely chopped (optional)), salt to taste, oil/ghee ( 2 tsp ), warm ghee ( 1/2 tsp ).

Preparation - Take the flour in a plate. Rub in the warm ghee. Sprinkle salt. Make a small well at the centre and add water. Mix throughly and knead into a soft dough. Keep aside for 10 mins.

Take the chenna in a mixing bowl. Add the chopped onion, green chilli, cumin powder, red chilli powder, coriander and salt. Mix well.

















Make four balls out of the dough. Roll out the balls into rotis. Divide the chenna mixture into two portions. Spread over two of the rotis.

















Cover with the remaining two rotis. Seal the sides.

Cooking- Heat a tawa. Put one paratha and cook on one side for 1 minute. Flip and add oil/ghee. Cook till done.

Repeat for the other paratha.

Note - These parathas taste equally delicious without adding onions. On the day of Osa/Vrat I make them without the onions and just add a rock salt instead of normal salt.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Corn Palak



This is another recipe i prepared using my favorite 'palak gravy'. As I have already mentioned in my earlier posts, I always stock some of it in the fridge as i find it to be very versatile. This time i paired it with some corn. 

Fresh corn is another ingredient that is always available in my fridge. If nothing else, it always eases my 5 pm hunger pangs. I boil it and season it into one of the combinations like 'Butter-chilli', 'Lemon-chilli', 'Chat masala','butter-garlic', 'Butter-oregano-garlic', ,butter-chilli-lemon, and so on. 

Here is the recipe for some lip smacking corn palak:
















Preparation time - 15 mins

Ingredients - 1-1 1/2 cup fresh corn, 3 cups chopped spinach ( palak, use only the tender leaves with stems chopped off ), 1 medium sized onion ( chopped roughly ), 1 tsp ginger garlic paste, 1 green chilli, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/3 tsp chilli powder, 1/3 tsp garam masala (optional), 2 tsp butter, 1 tsp oil, pinch of turmeric, salt to taste. 

Cooking: Boil the corn for 5 mins. Drain water and keep aside.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok. Add the green chilli and cumin seeds. When seeds start spluttering, add the onion. Fry till translucent. Add ginger garlic paste and fry for 2-3 mins. 

Add the chopped spinach and stir fry on medium to high flame to remove excess water. Remove from wok and keep aside to cool down. Transfer to a blender and blend into a smooth paste.

Heat 2 tsp butter in a wok. Add boiled corn and stir for 2 mins . Add the chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and blanched spinach. Cook for 5 mins.

Garnish with an extra dollop of butter. Serve hot as a side dish with rice/rotis.

Note- Blanch the spinach to retain its natural green color.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Masala Chai ( Tea with spices )

Its been raining incessantly for 5 days now. The laundry baskets are spilling over and the house smells of half-dry clothes. No sunshine greets me as i wake up in the morning. The pitter-patter of the raindrops against the glass windows seems to be drowning out every other sound. The only saving grace to such a gloomy morning being the luscious verdant carpet that covers the open fields in sight.

I steal a sideways glance. Little angel is sleeping blissfully ensconced in his blanket. The sight of his innocent face always manages to lighten my mood. I tuck the blanket around him once again and step down from the bed. Hoping fervently that the newspaper guy is not late, I open the door. Today's edition of TOI greets me back. I pick it up lovingly and step into the kitchen. Need something special to warm up the house and dispel this dank musty feel which seems to hang in the
air. Its too early to bake a cake, so I settled for a cuppa of Masala chai instead.

Time to wake up hubby. Putting the water on the stove to a boil, I called out to him. Managed to wake him up but not without a few grunts and grumblings. Tea was served by the time he freshened up. Nothing better to drive away the blues. Before taking on the day, we savor these tranquil moments spent every morning with the newspaper and tea.

Here is the recipe for my special and always dependable 'Masala chai':


















Preparation time - 10-12 mins (serves 4 )

Ingredients - milk ( 2 cups ), water ( 2 1/2 cups ), sugar ( 4 tsp ), tea leaves ( 4 tsp), ginger ( 1 inch ), cloves ( 2 nos ), cinnamon stick ( 1/2 inch ), green cardamon ( 1 no ), star anise ( 1 no ), peppercorns ( 6-7 nos ), bay leaf ( 1 small ).

Preparation- Bring the water to boil in a saucepan. Add the crushed ginger and all other spices. Boil for 5 mins. Strain the water, remove the spices and put it back into the saucepan.

Add sugar and tea leaves. Boil for 2-3 mins.

Add hot milk and simmer for another 2 mins.

Strain and serve hot with khari biscuits/cookies.


Avocado Smoothie

Avocados are easily available in the market these days and the prices have also come down. This is a great time for avocado lovers like me. Though i was first introduced to this fruit during my Mangalore days, i immediately fell for it. One can readily find it in parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra.

For the uninitaited, this lush green fruit has a very subtle flavour and velevtty , melt-in-the-mouth texture. No wonder it is also popular as butter fruit. Though high in calories, it is has high amount of mono-unsaturated fats and dietary fibre. It is also loaded with vitamins and minerals. It helps in lowering the LDL ( bad cholestrol) and increasing HDL ( good cholestrol ). It is a skin superfood with its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

While buying the fruit, look for deep purple ones or very dark green ones. On pressing between the thumb and forefinger, it should yield only slightly. Too hard or too mushy is just not good enough.

Here is the recipe for a quick smoothie that i made with this fruit:
















Preparation time - 10 mins

Ingredients - ripe avocado ( 1 no), milk ( 1/2 cup), fresh yogurt (1/2 cup), almonds ( 5-6 nos ), honey ( 2 tsp), powdered flaxseed ( 1 tsp), ice cubes ( 5-6 nos).

Preparation- Soak the almonds overnight. Wash and remove skin in the morning.

Put a cut along the length of the avocado, and around its seed in the centre of the fruit. Hold the two pieces, turn in opposite directions and use gentle pressure to take apart. Remove seed with a sharp object. Scoop out the fleas using a spoon. (Do not throw the skin yet.Rub it on your face for yummy-licious skin)

Dissolve the honey in 2-3 tbs of lukewarm water.

Transfer all ingredients into the blender jar. Blend till smooth. Dilute with cold milk to get desired consistency or serve as it is.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chenna Jhili ( Cheese balls in a light sugary syrup )

Along the much traveled road between Bhubaneshwar and Puri, lies a little discovered world of gastronomic delights. Small 'chalia' hotels dot this stretch and offer a wide variety of Odiya delicacies. One can eat to his/her heart's content without burning a hole in the pocket.

On our previous trip to Puri, we chanced upon one such foodie haven. We had halted by the 'Bata Mangala' temple to offer our regards to the deity. Hunger pangs were hitting us hard and we duly proceeded to one of the hotels after offering worship. The waiter ( if i can so call the urchin who was serving us ) was prompt to take the orders and the food was laid on our table in another five minutes. We had settled for 'Puri-buta dalma' and it turned out to be excellent. We could not
resist going for a second helping.

Once finished, we started looking around for dessert. This huge cauldron of 'Chenna Jhili' sitting next to the cashier was beckoning at us. Once started, we did not finish before wolfing down a dozen of these cuties among the three of us. With our appetites satiated, we proceeded towards our destination.

Anyone who has visited the Puri-Jagannath temple would always remember being over-whelmed by this huge sea of humanity that stalks this place throughout the year. It is one of the char-dhams, the four places that every Hindu is supposed to visit in his lifetime. Jostling the crowds and the ever rude ( or should i say obnoxious ) Pandas, we managed to get a darshan ( mind it...the queqes here operate in a round robin method...no standing and savoring the sight of the Lord being permitted ). For the uninformed, the Puri 'Pandas' are not to be mistaken for the Pandas, the latter being a friendly and lovable lot. The former are special priests who offer worship in the Jaganaath temple and are known to fleece people. Want to break a coconut, put in Rs'XX', want to get close to the lord, put in Rs'YY', and so on.

I was feeling a little low after my husband's run-in with one of these people. But once we hit the road, these thoughts were duly banished. Visiting the beaches is sacrosanct on a trip to Puri. The golden sands were as inviting as ever and we frolicked among the waves for a good two hours. With appetites all whetted up, we started off on the return journey. There were more delights to be discovered on the way back.















Here is the recipe for 'Chenna jhili':

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients- whole milk ( 1 litre ), maida ( 1 tsp ), powdered sugar ( 2 tsp ), sugar ( 1 3/4 cups ), cardamon (2 nos), oil/ghee for deep frying.

Cooking -

To prepare chenna - Bring milk to a boil. Add the sour curd and wait for a few minutes till the milk solids separate from whey. The whey should have a clear appearance at this point. If not add more curd and boil for another 5 mins.

Once all the solids separate, strain the chenna using a fine cloth or even a strainer with very fine mesh. Allow to stand for sometime till excess water is drained.

Around the same time, dissolve the sugar in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil on medium flame. Crush the cardamon and add to the vessel. We need a very light sugar syrup, so it takes about 7-8 minutes. Remove from flame just before it reaches a stringy consistency.















Take the chenna in a vessel/mixing bowl and add the maida and powdered sugar. Crumble and knead the chenna to remove lumps and it just comes together into a soft dough ( takes about 5-6 mins, do not overdo the kneading ). Pinch small lumps out of the dough and shape into balls. These balls can either be shallow fried or deep fried.

Heat sufficient oil/ghee in a wok. Put one ball into the wok and test if it holds together. If yes, add the remaining balls into the wok and fry them to a brown color on medium heat. (If it starts to crumble/break, add little more maida to the chenna dough and knead for another 2-3 mins.)

Once the balls are fried, put them into the vessel containing the hot sugar syrup. Allow to stand for an hour or so.































Serve with a garnish of chopped almonds or as it is.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Coca-cola Cake

Most of us love a coke. But what do we do with one of these unfinished family pack bottles that sit in the fridge after a party/ friends get-togather ? There is just no fizz left in it after being opened a number of times. Being bitten by the baking bug, i decided to use it in my next cake. Will the flavour really pop-out ? Or will it just disappear in the flour-sugar-butter mix.

Some quick googling threw up quite a few recipes. Somebody had mentioned that using coke as it is will give a very subtle flavour and we need to concentrate it by boiling before using it in the recipe ( i am yet to try this ). I decided to go with the subtle flavour and use chocolate/coffee to enhance it . Since coke  is already laden with caffiene, i dropped the idea of using more caffiene ( not good for kids ).

Since i had a cup of cream cheese sitting in my fridge, i decided to make a white chocolate=cream cheese frosting as well. That was the first and only time i have ever tried by hand at frostings/icings.

NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO SUBSTITUTE DIET COLA IN THIS RECIPE. THE ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS IN DIET COLA ARE KNOWN TO BREAKDOWN UPON HEATING AND RELEASE HARMFUL BY-PRODUCTS.

This one has been in the draft for quite sometime. So, Today i will finally be sharing the recipe for this delicious Coca-cola cake. Here we go :















Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients- Butter ( 100 gm ), sugar ( 1 cup ), eggs ( 3 nos ), self-raising flour ( 2 cups ), baking powder ( 1 tsp ), cocoa powder ( 2 tsp ), warm milk ( 4-5 tbs ), coca cola ( one cup, at room temperature ).

For frosting - 1/2 cup cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup white chocolate, 1 cup powdered/castor sugar.

Preparation - Powder the sugar in a food processor.

Take the butter ( at room temperature ) in a mixing bowl and add the powdered sugar. Beat it nicely with a whisk till it turns a few shades lighter in colour.

Break the eggs in a separate bowl and whisk them till it forms soft peaks. Around the same time, dissolve the cocoa powder in the warm milk and keep aside.

Add the whisked eggs into the mixing bowl and mix them nicely.

Add the coca cola, little by little so that it mixes completely with the batter ( Do not add all of it in one go ). Batter will be very liquid at this point so do not panic.

Take the self-raising flour in a seive and add to the above batter slowly, a little at a time (This trick incorporates an extra amount of air into the batter which is very important in making the cake very spongy).

Add the baking powder to the last quantity of the flour being added to the batter. Mix well. (We need to be quick from this point as the baking powder starts working as soon as it comes in contact with moisture)

Add the cocoa milk mixture to batter and mix it well.

Take a baking tray ( 1 litre capacity) and spray it with a non-stick cooking oil/brush with butter. Sprinkle some flour.

Pour the batter into it and shake it gently.

For frosting - Take the cream cheese and butter (at room temp) into a mixing bowl and beat nicely. Melt chocolate in a water bath and add it gently .Mix well.

Finally add the sugar and mix thoroughly. Allow to cool for half hour before using.

Cooking: Pre-heat an oven to 175 degees celcius. Put the cake into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Prick the centre of the cake with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Else pop it back into the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Allow to cool down. Spread the frosting over the top (and the sides too if you like) of the cake. Sprinkle a layer of grated white chocolate.

Cut into generous portions and serve. Store the remaining pieces in an airtight container.

Note: The butter-sugar and eggs should be beaten separately as it helps in getting more air into the batter.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Omlette do pyaza

'Sunday ho ya Monday, roz khayen ande', exhorted Dara Singh in one of the most memorable telly adverts of all times. And it has been my mantra ever since. Fried, poached, scrambled, boiled or curried, I relish eggs in any form. Easy to prepare and good to eat, they fit into every budget. When the 'Rs 12' meal controversy erupted in recent times, I could think of no better non-vegetarian option than '1 bowl of rice + 1 egg curry + one/half papad', sold on a marginal profit ofcourse.

Studies have indicated that people having eggs for breakfast experience less cravings for fried/junk food later in the day. Fortified eggs being sold these days also pack in Omega acids/iron/calcium and other nutrients which are our daily requirement. With low cholestrol and diabetic friendly eggs also available, everyone can enjoy them without any guilt.

Today, I will be sharing one of my lazy recipes, the yummy 'Omlette do pyaza'. I chose to call it Omlette do pyaza instead of Anda do pyaza as do pyaza is generally prepared with boiled eggs.
















Preparation Time: 10 mins

Ingredients: egg ( 1 no.), onion ( 1 medium), green chilli ( 1 no ), chopped coriander ( 1 tbs ), finely chopped garlic/ginger ( 1/2 tsp), tomato puree ( 1 tbs )/Maggie bhuna masala ( 1/2 tsp ), garam masala ( 1 pinch, optional), oil ( 2 tsp), salt to taste.

Preparation: Chop the onion into chunks. Slit, de-seed and cut chilli into thin long strips.

Break egg into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and beat for 1 min.

Cooking: Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a pan. Add the egg and cook on both sides till done. Remove from pan and cut into small pieces.

Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Add chopped onion and fry till translucent. Add the tomato puree/Maggie bhuna masala and cook for 1-2 mins along with few tbs of water.

Toss in the omlette pieces. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Finally add the ginger/garlic and garam masala, and mix togather.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with white rice or rotis.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Marble Cake

I must confess that i love baking a cake more than eating one. Even the filmy-est excuse sends me scurrying into the kitchen to pick up my mixing bowl and whisk, and bring out the oven from the cupboard.The aroma and warmth that fills up the house when my cake sits prettily in the oven is capable to lifting my spirits out of the deepest dumps. I can only describe the experience as therapeutic.

No fancy baking tins or food processors for me. I try to retain the old world charm associated with baking and get nostalgic every time a bake a cake. Making use of the very basic ingredients with some lime zest/orange rind/cinnamon stick/few strands of saffron/cocoa powder/strawberry slush thrown in for variety, I rely on my hands to recreate the magic every time. I usually skip the decorations as i find that it takes away from the cake. I really admire Rachel Allen for her lovely cakes and the way she makes use of the simplest form of cake dressing/decorations.

Today I am sharing the recipe for 'Marble Cake' which is so named as it is reminiscent of the swirls/patterns found on a marble flooring. It is a delectable mix of plain old Vanilla and Chocolate cake.















Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients- Butter ( 100 gm ), sugar ( 1 cup ), eggs ( 3 nos ), vanilla essence ( 7-8 drops ), self-raising flour ( 2 cups ), baking powder ( 1 tsp ), cocoa powder ( 2-3 tsp ), warm milk ( 4-5 tbs ).

Preparation - Powder the sugar in a food processor.

Take the butter ( at room temperature ) in a mixing bowl and add the powdered sugar. Beat it nicely with a whisk till it turns a few shades lighter in colour. Add the vanilla essence.

Break the eggs in a separate bowl and whisk them till it forms soft peaks. Around the same time, dissolve the cocoa powder in the warm milk and keep aside.

Add the whisked eggs into the mixing bowl and mix them nicely.

Take the self-raising flour in a seive and add to the above batter slowly, a little at a time (This trick incorporates an extra amount of air into the batter which is very important in making the cake very spongy). Add the baking powder to the last quantity of the flour being added to the batter. Mix well. (We need to be quick from this point as the baking powder starts working as soon as it comes in contact with moisture)

Take 1/3rd of the batter into another bowl. Add the cocoa milk mixture to this and mix it well.

Take a baking tray ( 1 litre capacity) and spray it with a non-stick cooking oil/brush with butter. Sprinkle some flour.

Put a dollop of the plain batter followed by a dollop of the chocolate batter in the pattern as shown below. Follow a pattern such that the two batters are alternately placed.
















Finally take a toothpick and move it around in gentle swirling movements to mix the two. Do not go overboard as the two might get completely mixed up.































Cooking: Pre-heat an oven to 175 degrees celcius. Put the cake into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Prick the center of the cake with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Else pop it back into the oven for 5-10 minutes.






























Allow to cool down. Cut into generous portions and serve. Store the remaining pieces in an airtight container.

Note: The batter should be so thick that if you overturn the bowl, it should not fall. The butter-sugar and eggs should be beaten separately as it helps in getting more air into the batter.

For best results, use a deep round baking dish.

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