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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chocolate-Honey Cake

This is one of Nigella's heavenly looking cakes that I had been eyeing for sometime. I guess the way she waxes eloquent about them only adds up to ones' expectations. 'So..it is just a modified version of a chocolate cake' most folks would be thinking. But it is tough to conjure up the right words to describe what the honey bit ( well actually a lot of it ) does to this cake. I can only say that its pure unadulterated pleasure . The gooey sauce that is poured over it only makes it more sinful. And the bees just add to its mystique. It has got everything to be that 'made for a special occasion' cake.

Having been out of practice for quite sometime ( around 5 months), I ended up over-filling(more than 2/3rd) the baking tin as I could not find my usual measuring cups. Had to deal with a real mess as it overflowed and was all over the oven floor. Moreover the top got a little too dark as i forgot to cover it with a foil after the cake had done its rising. Finally, as i did not have the honeycomb baking tin, I resorted to cutting off the edges of a round cake to give it the desired shape. Not finding my usual serrated knife, i cut it with a regular one that resulted in some chipping on the sides. Felt really bad when the sides did not look as clean as I had visualized. Moreover, I painted the bees when the sauce was still a bit warm and hence it ended up spreading a bit (Please keep these in mind before trying out the cake). Have to admit that it did dampen my spirits a bit but the first bite itself made me forget everything.

Read on for the recipe:
















Preparation Time - 1 hour 30 mins

Ingredients -
For the cake - 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 2/3 cup honey, 1 cup dark chocolate pieces, 3 eggs, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp fruit salt ( i used ENO), 1 tsp cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp coffee, 1/2 - 1 cup boiling water.

For the gooey sauce - 1/2 cup honey, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces, 1/3 cup powdered sugar.

For the honey bees - Marzipan, almond flakes.

Preparation - Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler. Allow it to come down to room temperature.

Beat the sugar and butter till light and fluffy. Add the honey and mix well.

Break the 3 eggs in another bowl and whisk them up till soft peaks can be formed.
Add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture, a little at a time. Stir in 1-2 tsp of the flour into the batter.
Once all the eggs are incorporated into the batter, add the melted chocolate.

Mix the flour, cocoa powder, coffee, baking powder and fruit salt in a separate bowl.
Sift in the flour mixture into the batter, a little at a time. Do not beat too much, just gently stir it in.

Finally add the boiling water, a few teaspoons at a time. Check that the mixture does not get too runny.

Cooking - Pre-heat a oven to 180 degrees.
Grease a baking tin with butter. Sift in some flour over it.

Pour the batter into the tin and put into the oven. Bake at 175 degrees till the cake is done. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.( Took about 40 mins for mine.)

Remove the cake from the tin while it is still warm. Allow to cool down completely before pouring the sauce over it.

For the sauce - Bring water and honey to boil. Add the dark chocolate pieces and stir in gently. Switch off flame. The heat is sufficient to melt the chocolate. Add the powdered sugar and beat to remove any lumps. One should get a silky texture sauce. Allow it to stand till it is just warm to touch.

Pour the sauce carefully over the cake. It does get a little drippy and messy. (But you are welcone to lick it off...and trust me, you will only be too happy doing it.)

Shape the bees out of the marzipan. Take a toothpick and paint their face and stripes with the remaining chocolate sauce. Stick in the almond flakes to give them wings. Position the over the cake.

Chocolate-Honey cake is now ready to be served. (Anybody fancy eating a fat honeybee????)

[ Note -All ingredients should be at room temperature. A have used a low sugar dark chocolate. If you are using a normal one, do reduce the quantity of sugar added to the batter/sauce. Also keep the consistency of the honey in mind while adding water.]

How to make Vegan Marzipan @ home ??



Marzipan is a confection consisting primarily of sugar or honey and almond meal, sometimes augmented with almond oil or extract. It is often made into sweets; common uses are marzipan-filled chocolate and small marzipan imitations of fruits and vegetables. It is also rolled into thin sheets and glazed for icing cakes, primarily birthday and wedding cakes and Christmas cake. [Source: Wiki]
While some marzipan recipes make use of the egg white instead of water, I preferred this simple vegan recipe: It can be used it as a substitute for fondant in some cases. Read on for the recipe:



Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients - 1 cup almonds, 1 cup powdered/castor sugar, coloring agent as desired.

Preparation - Boil water in a saucepan. Add the almonds and boil for 1 minute.
Drain off the hot water and add cold water. Allow to stand for 2-3 mins.

Drain off water. Now you can remove the skins easily. (The above steps are usually referred to as blanching)

Take the almonds in a food processor and grind into a powder (almond meal). Do not overdo else the almond meal releases its natural oils and it starts sticking to the sides of the jar.

Take the almond meal and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Add water ( if using any color, add it to the water), a few drops at first and then more if needed. The ingredients should come together into a tight dough.

Take the dough and work/knead if further on a clean working surface to remove any lumps.

Shape it as desired or roll out into a thin layer to cover your cake.

Store it for up to 1 week (rolled in a thin film and put in a airtight container). But remember to bring it to room temperature before working it.

















[ I have painted the marzipan figurines in the above picture with chocolate sauce ]

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mutton Ghuguni ( Mutton and Yellow Peas Curry )

Mutton curry and  ghuguni(yellow peas curry) both have a cult following in Orissa. The two dishes cannot be more different from each other and yet are equally delectable. So it is little wonder that they had to come together and create yet another delicious recipe.

Mutton fat or 'Charbi' is usually added to ghuguni to improve its flavor while keeping the costs low, I preferred adding mutton pieces instead. This is my way of cutting back on my meat intake as one would have fewer pieces of meat in a ghuguni as compared to a full fledged mutton curry. One can serve this with roti, paratha, chakuli or even rice.

Read on for the recipe:

















Preparation Time: 40-50 mins

Ingredients: Mutton pieces ( 200 gm ), yellow peas (200 gm), potato ( 1 medium sized one ), tomato ( 1 medium), onion ( 1 medium), ginger-garlic paste ( 1 tsp), cumin seeds (1/5 tsp), cumin powder (1/3 tsp), coriander powder (1/3 tsp), chilli powder ( 1/2 tsp), garam masala powder (1/5 tsp), meat masala ( 1/3 tsp), oil (2 tsp), coriander leaves, turmeric powder, salt to taste.

For the mutton marinade - 1 small onion (chopped) , 2 green chillis, 1/2 inch cinnamon, 1 small green cardamon, 1 tsp mustard oil, 1/4 tsp turmeric, salt to taste.

Preparation: Soak the yellow peas for about 8 hours. Wash and put in a cooker along with potato, salt and turmeric powder. Cook for 1 whistle. Open when steam escapes and remove the potato.

Marinate the mutton pieces with all the ingredients for the marinade for 1 hour. Cook or 2-3 whistles or till it is sixty-seventy percent done. Transfer this to the pressure cooker containing the boiled peas. Cook together for another 1-2 whistle . Allow the steam to escape before opening lid.

Cut the onion and tomato into small pieces. Peel the potato and cut into medium sized cubes.

Cooking: Heat oil in a deep vessel. When it starts smoking, add the cumin seeds and bay leaf. Wait till it splutters, and then add onion pieces. Fry the onion for about 2-3 mins and then add ginger-garlic paste.

Cook for 2-3 mins, then add the potato pieces ,tomatoes, salt and turmeric powder. Fry for about 5 mins. Add the cumin powder, coriander powder, meat masala and chilli powder.

Cook for 1-2 mins. Add the contents of the pressure cooker. Mix and cook on high flame for 4-5 minutes. Add boiling water, check the salt (add more if needed) and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the garam masala and remove from fire. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Egg Butter Masala ( Low calorie version )

Chicken Butter Masala happens to be one of the most popular Indian chicken dishes. I guess if the Tandoori chicken wins first place in any popularity contest, the butter masala would be considered as a close second. Whenever I invite any friends who do not eat chicken, I feel rather sorry at not being able to serve them this wonderful dish. That is what egged me to recreate the magic of Chicken Butter Masala with eggs (Yeah ...everyone loves eggs). And it turned out to be a winner.

You can use fresh cream if you like but I have added low-fat milk instead of water to add richness to the gravy. Keeping a close check on the calories these days. Read on for the recipe:

















Preparation Time - 30 minutes

Ingredients - 4 eggs, 2 big onions, 2 small/medium tomatoes, 2 tsp ginger garlic paste, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 big cardamon, 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, 1/3 tsp turmeric, salt to taste, 3 tsp oil, 1 tbsp butter, 7-8 cashews, a fistful of raisins, 1 cup skim/low-fat milk.

Preparation - Soak the cashews and raisins for 3-4 hours.
Grind into a smooth paste.

Roughly chop the onions and tomatoes.

Cooking - Heat 1 1/2 tsp of oil in a wok. Add the roughly chopped onions. Fry on low flame till you can see brown spots. This indicates that caramelization has started and the onions turn sweet.

At the same time, heat sufficient water in a saucepan. Add the eggs and boil for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool down a bit and remove the shells.

Remove the onions from the wok and allow to cool a bit. Grind into a smooth paste.

Add the boiled eggs along with a pinch of turmeric to the wok. Fry to a golden color. Remove and keep aside (You can skip this step if you wish)

Add the remaining oil and butter to the wok. Once it is hot enough, add the cumin seeds and big cardamon. Fry for 30 seconds and remove the cardamon as it tends to overpower the other flavors.

Add onion paste and fry for 2 mins. Add GG paste and fry for 3-4 minutes.

Add the roughly chopped tomatoes with salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Fry till oil separates from the paste.

Add the cashews and raisins paste and cook for 2 mins. The raisins add sweetness to this curry hence i have skipped sugar. If not using raisins add 1 1/2 tsp sugar.

Slowly stir in the milk and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Make small cuts into the eggs and add to the curry. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Switch off flame.

Serve hot with rotis/phulkas or rice. (I like to have it with both)




Monday, January 27, 2014

Oats Pongal

My son's liking for this simple and wholesome rice dish has turned me into a faithful fan (read follower). Easy to make and quite comforting, I have been cooking it regularly in the last weeks. With my current obsession with oats, i felt tempted to add some to the regular pongal. Turned out to be quite nice. Also, adding oats greatly increases the soluble fiber content of this dish which helps reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) and keeps one's heart healthy . Read on for the recipe:

















Preparation Time - 15 mins


Ingredients - 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup yellow moong dal, 1/2 cup quick oats, 8-9 cashews, 1 tsp peppercorn, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 pinch carom seeds, 1/2 inch ginger (cut into juliennes), 3-4 tsp ghee, salt to taste, 41/2 cups water.

Cooking - Heat 2 tsp ghee in a pressure cooker. Add the cashew and lightly fry them. remove and keep aside.

Add cumin, carom seeds, peppercorn and ginger. Wash and add the rice and moong dal. Fry for 2-3 minutes or till a fragrance comes.

Add the hot water, fried cashews (keep aside a few for the garnish) and salt. Close lid and cook for 2-3 whistles.

Allow steam to escape before opening. Put on the stove again. Add another 1/2 to 1 cup of hot water (only if required) and the quick cooking oats. Cook for 3 minutes.

Sprinkle the remaining ghee and stir in.

Garnish with a few cashews and serve hot.





Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pudina Biryani

I have been quite lazy of late and been looking around for quick fix /one pot meals. While all that i want to do is lie down on the couch with a feel-good book and a hot cup of green/ginger/lemon tea, it is quite a case of wishful thinking with a two year old running around the house. This is a simple and nutritious rice recipe that I prepared last week. While I would have done good with my old Pudina Rice recipe, my kid has been looking forward to eating more spicy stuff these days. I guess its the cold which has dulled his taste buds. Without much delay, read on for the recipe:



















Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredient - 2 cups Gobindobhog rice ( you can use sona masuri instead ), 1 cup soya granules, 1 medium sized potato, 3 tsp mint paste, 3 tbs thick yogurt, 1 medium sized onion, 2 dry red chillis, 2 tsp oil, whole garam masala (2 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon stick, 1/2 star anise, 1/2 javitri, a pinch of grated jaiphal, 1 small green cardamom) , salt to taste.


Preparation - Wash, peel and chop potato into small pieces. Cut onion into thin long slices.

Soak the soya granules in hot water. After 10 minutes squeeze and wash 2-3 times with fresh water.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add broken red chilli and onion pieces. Fry till translucent.

Add the whole garam masala and saute for 30 seconds. Add mint paste and cook for 2 minutes on medium flame.

Add the potato and soya granules. Fry for another 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the yogurt and cook for 3-4 minutes on medium to high flame till the mixture starts leaving oil.

Add the washed rice along with 3 1/2 cups of hot water. [ Sprinkle some chopped mint leaves if you wish ]

Close lid and cook for 2 whistles.

Allow steam to escape before opening lid.

Serve hot with papad and raita. Or just pack some for your lunchbox.
















Note - Instead of using pudina paste, one can use pudina and coriander leaves in equal proportion for making the paste. Throw in 5-6 garlic flakes for added flavor.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Surmai Fry

"So its Fish fry this Sunday ?", enquired hubby. And as I was feeling a little lazy I readily agreed. Fried fish with a simple rice-dal and salad makes for a wholesome and quick meal. Having had quite a bit of Rohi in the past weeks, we wanted a change and zeroed in on 'Surmai'.

Though a lot more expensive than Rohi, it provides a nice change once in a while. And it is free from bones (just one tiny bit at the centre) which makes it very suitable for all the folks who worry about swallowing them by mistake. I have kept the seasoning to a minimum but feel free to add more if you wish. The addition of sesame also gives it a nice touch but again it is optional.


















Preparation time - 15 mins

Ingredients - 2 slices of Surmai fish, 2 pinches turmeric, a pinch of cumin powder, a pinch of coriander powder, 1/5 tsp chilli powder, 1/3 tsp ginger garlic paste, 1 tsp sesame seeds, few drops of lemon juice, salt to taste, 3 tsp oil for frying the fish.

Preparation - Wash and dry the fish pieces with a paper towel. Sprinkle the lemon juice and rub gently. Keep aside for 1 minute.

Make a paste with the remaining ingredients (except oil).

Rub the paste on the fish pieces (both sides).

Heat a non-stick frying pan. Add the oil. When oil is very hot (but not smoking), add the fish slices. Fry on high for 30 seconds on each side to get that seared effect. Bring down flame and cook on low to medium flame for 4-5 minutes on both sides.
[Do not overcook else the juices would dry up and the fish will turn chewy.]

Serve hot with white rice, dal and salad.



Review: Banchharam @ Marathahalli

Its been so long since I did a review. This time it is my favorite sweet shop in Bengaluru, Bancharam. Ok, so Bancharam is a Calcutta based sweet shop that has three branches in Bengaluru, the other two being Kormangala and Ulsoor.




Yes, its been there at Marathahalli for a long time and I have been visiting it regularly. But I was unaware that so few Bengaluru folks know about it. Found out last week when we served their Misthi Doi and Rasmalai to our friends.

Though on the pricier side, their items are a treat. They have the entire gamut of bengali sweets like quite a few varieties of Sandesh, Peda, Chum Chums, Gulab Jamuns, Rasgullas and Labanga Latika. And they also have that liquid Nolen Gur in stock these days. I have left out quite a few stuff for the list just gets too long.

My favorites are the Rasmalai, Rasgulla, Misti Doi and Malai Chumchum. I especially love the Rasmalai for its tiny and succulent melt-in-the-mouth rasgullas. At 50 rupees per 100 ml ( or about 5-6 balls), it is hardly cheap but every bite is worth relishing.

The Misti Doi is priced at Rs 16 /100 ml for the plastic cups and Rs 20/100 ml for the earthen cups. The rest of the sweets are roughly priced in the range of Rs 18-25 per piece.

Another must-try item is their Samosa. Priced at Rs 16/piece, it is tiny but really spicy and yummy. However, I felt that they fry it in Vanaspathi Ghee (Dalda) which gives that lovely flavor but is really bad for the heart. I havn't had it confirmed so it is just a niggling doubt. On second thoughts, a one off indulgence (and one that is so tasty) would hardly clog the poor arteries.

How about visiting this place for finding out the rest ???

Overall, I would rate the place at: 4.5/5 ( -0.5 for the price and also that they have no place to sit).
Taste - 5/5
Hygienic - 5/5
Price - 4/5

















[  Bought this Misthi Doi and Rasmalai last night. See how nicely they have packed it. And check that open container at the top right corner. Its so yumm..had to dig it before taking the snaps .]

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Eggplant Yogurt Salad ( Dahi Baigana in a new avatar )

As part of the food makeover series, I have picked up the mundane 'Dahi baigana', a delicious raita made with deep fried aubergines/eggplant . For this particular recipe, I had a twin agenda in mind. The first requirement was to reduce the number of calories. So instead of deep frying, I chose to bake the eggplant. But with an unscheduled power-cut throwing my plans out of gear, I decided to roast them on the non-stick tawa/frying pan instead. Used an oil-spray instead of using regular oil.

To give it a pretty look, I replaced the curd with thick yogurt and made it into a salad. Along with a few pomegranate seeds thrown in for the garnish (they do add a nice sweetness when you bite in), one can use some fresh herbs to add that extra zing to this dish. I used cilantro but it tastes equally good with basil/mint/parsley.

















Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients - 7-8 thin slices of eggplant, 3/4 cup thick yogurt, salt to taste, oil spray/1 tsp olive oil.

For tempering - 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 sprig curry leaves, 1 dry red chilli, a pinch of asafoetida, 1 1/2 tsp oil ( i used rice bran oil ).

For garnish - handful of pomegranate seeds, 1 tsp chopped cilantro, 1/3 tsp roasted cumin-chilli (jeera-lanka) gunda.


Preparation - Rub a little salt over the eggplant slices and keep aside.

Heat the oil in a tempering pan. Add the seeds along with broken chilli. Just as they start popping, add curry leaves and asafoetida. Switch off flame immediately and cover the pan with a lid.

Take the yogurt in a bowl. Add the salt and whisk gently. Strain the contents of the tempering pan when cool and add to the mixing bowl ( we will just be using the oil which has absorbed all the flavors of the tempering and leave out those offending bits ). Mix well.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade.

Dry the eggplant slices with a paper towel and brush a little oil on them. Place a foil on the baking tray and place eggplant slices on it. Cook at 200 degrees Centigrade for 2-3  minutes on each side. ( Else spray on some non-stick oil on a pan and roast the slices for 2 minutes on each side. )

Arrange the roasted slices on a platter. Pour the tempered yogurt over it. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds and chopped cilantro. Finally add the roasted cumin-chilli powder.

Serve as a salad.

Note - I quite liked this makeover as it actually captures the essence of the original recipe (like the use of tempering, addition of the jeera lanka gunda and the use of pomegranate seeds instead of sugar for adding sweetness). Let me know what you think about it.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cilantro-Mint Chutney (Dhaniya-Pudina Chutney)

This chutney has become my favorite dip/spread. I use it for sandwiches, chaat, samosas, pakoras, aloo-chop or even to spice up simple roti-subzi rolls. With healthy ingredients like cilantro, mint and carom seeds, and taste to match, this dip is simply a guilt-free indulgence ( little wonder that you will not find any other calorie laden dips in my fridge ). Read on:





Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients - 1 cup chopped cilantro (tightly packed), 1 cup chopped mint (tightly packed), 5 garlic flakes, 1 1/2 tsp tamarind paste, 1 pinch ajwain (carom) seeds, 1 tbsp jaggery, 2 green chillis, salt to taste.

Preparation - Take all the ingredients in the grinding jar. Add 2-3 tsp water and grind into a smooth paste. Add another few teaspoons of water if thinner consistency is desired.

Note - The chutney should not be too sour or sweet, just a subtle hint of sweetness/sourness is desired. However, one can increase/decrease the amount of jaggery/tamarind added as per taste. One word of caution. Do not go overboard with the carom seeds as it is sure to kill the other flavors.



Monday, January 20, 2014

Red Pepper Boats

'Aloo Chop' or Bonda as it is called in the Southern parts of India, is a very popular snack in Odisha. One can easily spot a shop selling these at every nook and corner of the state. Balls of slightly spiced boiled potato dipped in a batter of Bengal gram batter and deep fried, these can hardly be considered as a gourmet's delight.

As part of my new year resolution, I intend to give a makeover to some of the most common oriya dishes. This is the first in line. Cutting out the deep frying part, I stuffed the potato filling into these lovely red bell peppers and roasted them on a non-stick pan with a only a few drops of oil. The firm (read Al dente) peppers not just make for great holders but also add a fresh flavor to a popular snack. I had originally planned to add Kaffir lime leaves to the potato mixture but could not find it anywhere in Bangalore. Read on for the recipe:




Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients - 2 medium sized red bell peppers, 2-3 medium sized potatoes ( boiled and peeled ), 1 tsp grated garlic, 1 tsp grated ginger, 1 medium sized onion ( finely chopped ), 1/4 tsp mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/5 tsp turmeric, 2-3 tsp chopped coriander leaves, 2 tbs fried peanuts, 4 tsp oil, salt to taste.

Preparation - Wash and cut each bell pepper into two. Remove any pith/seeds from within. Brush all over (both insides and outside) with oil and a bit of salt.

Cooking: Heat 3 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 the mashed potato along with chilli powder, salt and turmeric. Fry for 2-3 mins. Now add the fried peanuts and chopped coriander. Fry for 1-2 mins. Remove from heat and keep aside till it is bearable to touch.

Stuff the potato mixture into the bell peppers.

Heat a non-stick frying pan. Drizzle with remaining oil. Add the stuffed peppers and cook on each side for 3-4 mins. They should be cooked but still firm.

Serve hot as starters/snacks.

















Sending this to Cook With Red Event at Shweta's blog Merry Tummy.



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chuda Dahi (Beaten rice flakes with yogurt)

If there is one Odiya dish that will never make it to a cookbook (m keeping fingers crossed here), it is the very humble 'chuda dahi' or 'chuda chakta'. A mix of beaten rice (soaked), yogurt, ripe bananas, grated coconut (optional) ad sugar, it has been the staple breakfast option for many generations...that is till now. This inelegant dish is hardly a treat for the eyes which I believe is the only reason behind its failure to capture the nation's imagination. These days most people are being drawn to low calorie breakfast cereals and oats without even realizing that this wholesome dish is one of the healthiest breakfasts that one can have.

Beaten rice is commonly known as Poha or Chivda in India. It is a rich source of complex carbohydrates and high on the fiber content too. It is rich in iron and eleven essential vitamins too. Incidentally, this is one carb that has the amazing ability to soak up water/liquid three times of its volume thus elevating it to the status of a bulking agent (Good news for all those weight-watchers).

Five reasons why i simply love this dish :
1. It does not require cooking. Five minutes handiwork and lo....I can dig in.
2. It packs in carbohydrates, calcium (yogurt/milk) and some fruit (banana...and I do add apple sometimes) goodness too. Nutrition experts advice people to include one portion from each of the above in one's breakfast. So, its a complete breakfast in every way.
3. It is inexpensive.
4. Replace sugar with jaggery, or cut it out completely, either way it works for diabetics/weight-watchers. Ditto for the coconut. Skip if your cholesterol levels are on the higher side. For those with lactose intolerance/vegan folks , skip yogurt/milk (Add some soy milk/badam milk instead if you find it too dry).
5. It is free from preservatives. (now that is my latest obsession and the reason why I have chucked out the Read-To-Eat stuff from my kitchen cabinet)
6. It keeps me feeling full for a long time afterwards ( bless the complex carbohydrates/fiber in beaten rice ).

Read on for the recipe (Ha..ha, please excuse my calling it so):


















Preparation Time - 5 minutes

Ingredients - 1 cup beaten rice (use red one if you wish), 1 cup yogurt, 1-2 ripe bananas, 1-2 tbs fresh grated coconut, 1 tsp sugar/powdered jaggery, 1-2 tsp milk powder ( optional..but i love it).


















Preparation - Wash and soak the beaten rice. The soaking will again depend on the thickness of the flakes. ( Some varieties like Nylon chuda as not really suitable for this recipe, I prefer thick ones )

Drain all water and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add in the bananas, sugar/jaggery and milk powder. Mash everything and mix thoroughly.

Add the yogurt (some prefer milk instead...take your pick) and grated coconut and mix again.

Serve immediately . (The bananas may lead to blackening/discoloration if left to sit for sometime however it still remains fit for consumption)



Friday, January 17, 2014

Important Oriya Festivals & Dates for 2014

Makar Sankranti ( 14 January) - Makara Chaula (makara-chaula)
Samba Dasami ( 10 January) - Ghadaghadiya Tarkari
Saraswati Puja ( 4 February) - Chuda Ghasa(chuda ghasa)
Shivratri ( 27 February ) - Panchamrita(panchamrit)
Dola Jatra ( 17 March ) - Amba panna(amba-panna)
Mahabisuba/Panaa Sankranti ( 14 April )- Bela Panaa/Chattua Panna(bela panaa)/(chattua panaa)
Ram Nabami ( 8 April ) - Chaula Kheeri (chaulaa kheeri)
Akshaya Tritiya ( 2 May ) -
Sabitri Brata ( 28 May ) - Phala ahara
Rajaa ( 14, 15, 16 June )- Janta Poda pitha(janta poda pitha), Budha chakuli (buddha chakuli), Saru chakuli(saru chakuli
Ratha Jatra ( 29 June ) - Poda pitha (Poda pitha)
Bahuda Jatra ( 7 July ) - Chakuli (Leuta pitha)
Jyesta Purnima ( 13 June ) - Chaula Kheeri
Janmasthami ( 7 August ) - Kheeri, Lahuni
Ganesh Puja ( 29 August ) - Rasi ladoo, Chuda ghasa
Nua Khai ( 30 August ) - Kheeri, Arissa, Khechudi
Dwitibahana Osa ( 15 September ) - Pariba Ghanta(pariba ghanta)
Durgasthami ( 1, 2, 3 October ) - Kanika (kanika)/Khechudi (khichudi)
Kumar Purnima ( 7 October ) - Khaee Chanda
Kartika Somabar ( Kartika masa starts on 8th October, First Monday falls on 13 October )- Muga Dalma/Habisa Dalma (Habisa Dalma ), Aau khatta (Aau khatta )
Panchuka ( 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 November ) - Non-vegetarian items are forbidden
Balijatra ( 6 November )
Chada Khai ( 7 November )
Prathamasthami  ( 15 November ) - Enduri Pitha (enduri pitha)
Manabasa Gurubar ( First one falls on 13 November, But for those who observe Manabasa only after Prathamastami it is 20 November )- Gaintha/Attakali ( Attakali ), Kakara, chakuli, Dahi Pakala, Sagaa, Khechudi
Dhanu Sankranti ( 16 December ) - Dhanu Muaa

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sicilian Pasta

I love pasta. And I love it even more if the sauce is a 'no-cooking' one. Caught this on 'Nigellissima' on Fox Traveller last week. The original called for Anchovies and capers but i skipped the former and substituted the latter with tender mangoes pickled in brine. Also I substituted 'Fusilli Lunghi' with my normal Borges Spaghetti.

Read on for the recipe:





Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients - 100 gms spaghetti, 1 very ripe tomato, 7-8 blanched almonds, 2 soaked tsp raisins, 2 peeled garlic flakes, 2 tender pickled mangoes, 2 tsp olive oil, salt for boiling the pasta, fresh basil leaves for the garnish.

Cooking - Boil a large quantity of water in a open mouthed vessel. Add loads of salt to it when it starts boiling ( It should taste 'like the sea' as mentioned in some website whose name I have forgotten ).

Add the spaghetti and cook it till al-dente ( tender but still with a bite ).

Transfer the tomato, raisins, almonds, garlic flakes, pickled mangoes and olive oil to a mixer jar. Grind into a little coarse paste. (I ended up with a little smooth than intended)

Add 2-3 tsp of the boiling pasta water to the grinder jar and pulse 2-3 times.

Drain the pasta and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the sauce on top of it and toss everything together. Strew the basil on top and dig in. (Perfect for one of those lazy days....which are beginning to get just too frequent in my case)


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bengalgram Coconut chutney

My favorite chutney when it comes to a south indian breakfast. I just adore the simplicity of this recipe. Not too many ingredients nor too many steps to be followed, this one is a breeze. But keep in mind that this tastes best when freshly ground. Once stored in the fridge it loses more than 50 percent of its original flavor.Read on for the recipe:






Preparation Time - 10-12 mins

Ingredients - 1 cup bengalgram dal, 1 tbsp split urdal dal, 2/3 cup sliced coconut, 2-3 dry red chilli, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 2 sprigs of curry leaves, 2 pinches asafoetida (hing), 3 tsp oil, salt to taste.

Preparation - Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the urad dal first and fry for 2 mins or till it turns a little brown. Add the bengalgram dal and fry for another 1 minute. Remove from the wok (Important else it gets over-fried) into a plate and allow to cool down a bit (I prefer to grind it when it is still warm).

Transfer into a grinder cup along with 1 red chilli and salt. Grind into a fine powder.

Now add the coconut pieces and dry grind first. Then add the required amount of water and grind again. Remove into a serving vessel.

Tempering - Heat the remaining oil in a wok. Add  the mustard seeds and once it starts spluttering, add asafoetida, red chilli and curry leaves. Remove from flame after 10 seconds. Pour this mix over the chutney and stir in.

Serve with Dosa/Idli/Vada/Uttapam.



















Sprouts Sandwich

It is still the January and I am going good job of sticking to my New Year resolutions. I have been eating healthy (Read sprouts, oats, poha, whole grains) for the last two weeks. Hence I substituted my regular potato filling with a mix of potato and sprouts ( you do need to add a bit of potato to hold those runaway sprouts together ).

Sprouts are categorized in the superfood category as they are loaded with enzymes (upto 100 more than what you get in fruits and vegetables). Enzyme help to improve the process of breaking down the ingested food so that the body can do a better job of assimilating it. The sprouting process is known to drastically improve the quality of available proteins and increase the fiber and vitamin content (especially those of vitamin A, B-complex, C and E).

Though beneficial for all, sprouts are a must have for women who are trying to conceive/pregnant. For older women nearing menopause, they help regulate hot flashes and hormone levels.




Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients - 4 slices of bread, 1/2 cup sprouts (I used green moong but mixed lentils is also OK), 1 boiled and mashed potato, 1 small onion (chopped), 1/5 tsp cumin powder, a pinch of turmeric, 1/5 tsp chilli powder, 1 tbsp chopped coriander, 1 tsp oil, 2 tbsp thick/hung curd, 1 tsp tamarind-jaggery chutney (can use Imli Pichkoo instead), 1 tsp ketchup, salt to taste.

Preparation - Add salt to the curd and beat lightly. (One can also add some mint/coriander chutney to enhance the flavor)

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Add the chopped onions and fry for 1 minute.

Add the mashed potato along with cumin powder, turmeric and chilli powder. Fry for 1 minute. Add the sprouts along with salt. Cook covered till the sprouts are cooked (takes 3-4 mins).

Add ketchup, chopped coriander and remove from flame.

















Heat a flat pan. Toast the bread slices for 1 minute (30 secs on each side). Remove from the pan and place on a plate.

















Spread the curd on the both bread slices. Drizzle with the tamarind-jaggery chutney.



















Take and spread about 2 tbsp of the sprouts mixture on one slice.

















Place the other slice over it. Cut into two triangular pieces.

Repeat with the other two pieces.

Serve immediately with ketchup/mint chutney.



Monday, January 13, 2014

Happy Makar Sankranti

Wishing all my friends a Very Happy Makar Sankranti!!!!

Makar Sankranti is one Hindu festival that is celebrated in equal fervor throughout India. Most people take a mandatory dip in a holy pond/river on this day followed by a visit to the temple. Odiya folks prefer to throng the Jagannath Dhan (Puri Jagannath temple) and the Sun temple at Chandrabhaga(Near Konark) on this day. This day marks a day of worship of the Sun God. This day marks the beginning of the Sun's journey into the Northern Hemisphere which translates into longer days.

















Makara Chaula (recipe HERE) is the mandatory prasad prepared in Orissa on this day. Made from freshly harvested rice, this simple and no cooking dish is a treat. This year I made a few changes to the recipe by replacing sugar with jaggery and adding some sesame instead of the coconut. Sadly I could not get my hands on any sugarcane.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ambula Raee ( Mandira preparation )

Ambula Raee is one of the most sought after dishes at any function in Orissa these days . While I already have an existing recipe on my blog, this one is specially prepared in the temples. Read on:

















Preparation Time - 2 hours 10 mins ( 2 hours standby time )

Ingredients -


  • 9-10 pieces Ambula
  • 1 cup sliced coconut
  • 3-4 green chillis
  • 3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 tbsp thick curd
  • 1 inch mango ginger
  • 1-2 dry red chillis
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • salt to taste.


For tempering -


  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 sprig curry leaves.



Preparation - Soak the ambula in 1 cup of hot water for 2 hours or till tender. Add crushed green chillis and coriander to it.

Grind the coconut into a paste and add to the above mixture.

Cooking: Dry roast the cumin seeds. Grind into a smooth paste along with the mustard seeds and red chilli.

Heat the oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves.

Add the mustard-cumin paste to the wok along with 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Now add the ambula mixture along with sugar and salt. Boil for 2-3 minutes.

Remove from flame and stir in the yogurt/curd and crushed mango ginger.

Serve with rice and dalma/dal.



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ganthi Kobi Masala (Khol Rabi Curry)

Kohl Rabi, Knolknol, Ol Kopi, Ganth Gobi, Ganthi Kobi, Cabbage Turnip. Call it by any name, this was not exactly my favorite vegetable when I was a kid. In fact I do not remember when I had last eaten it after moving out of my parents home. Till now. The demands made by my two year old on my time and energy levels has made me a lot less discerning about what gets on my plate.

Another reason to try out this vegetable was the apparent health benefits that it has.  Not only is it loaded with vitamins(Vitamin A, B-complex vitamins and carotenes) and minerals(potassium, manganese, iron, copper, calcuim and phosphorus), also it has only 27 calories per 100 gms and no cholesterol which makes it a delight for weight watchers (especially when consumed as a salad). Phytochemicals in Kohl Rabi also protect against colon and prostrate cancers. The leaves are also edible and rich in Vitamin C. So read on for the recipe:
















Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients - 2 large Ganthi Kobi, 1 large onion, 1 large tomato, 7-8 garlic flakes, 1/2 inch ginger, 2 dry red chillis, 1 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp sugar, a pinch of asafoetida, 1/6 tsp garam masala, salt to taste, 5-6 tsp oil.

Preparation - Peel and chop the khol rabi into small pieces.

Grind the onion, garlic flakes, ginger, 1 dry red chilli and cumin into a smooth paste.

Cooking - Heat 3 tsp of oil in a wok. Add the chopped khol rabi/ganthi kobi pieces. Stir fry for 5-6 minutes. Switch off the flame and remove from the wok.

















Add the remaining oil into the wok. Add the masala paste and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the sugar, red chilli powder, turmeric and asafoetida. Fry for 1 minute.

Add the chopped tomato and cover with a lid for 1-2 minutes. Once the tomatoes soften, mash them lightly. Add the fried khol rani/ganthi kobi along with salt.

Mix with the masalas and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Add 2/3 cup of boiling water to the wok.

Cover with a lid. Simmer for 5-6 minutes or till the khol rabi turns soft (but not mushy). Turn the flame high to evaporate excess water if any.


















Serve hot. While it is best with rotis, I  enjoyed this dry curry with rice and curd.


































Sending this to the event Healthy Vegetarian Side Dishes hosted by Nandoo's Kitchen and Priya's Versatile Recipes .



Monday, January 6, 2014

A Quick Stopover at Konark

[Continued from Here]

The next morning dawned bright and sunny. After a nice breakfast and a little sweet indulgence, we started exploring the town on foot. We were surprised to find that ghettos exist even among tourists that flock the city. While the boisterous Bengali crowd prefers the seaside hotels, the foreigners prefer to stay a bit away from the seas. One can easily make this out by looking up the hotels names in a particular area. Hotels like Dada-Boudir hotel, Rupasi Bangla and Sonar Bangla cater to the Bengali crowd while the foreigners prefer hotels like Derby, Richmond, and Marrion. The latter section of the city is the right place to pick up some really nice junk jewelry though the prices quoted are a little high.

All the walking really tired us and we duly returned to the beach for a quick rest. Around 1 pm, we started back to out homestay and picked our luggage. The vehicle that was to take us to Puri and finally drop us at BBSR had arrived. With the bags already packed, we started promptly. The drive took us through the Chandrabhaga Forest Reserve (home to lots of deers), the picturesque Puri-Konark Marine Drive, Ramachandi (Temple) and the awesome Chandrabhaga beach. With a heavy meal at one of the numerous hotels that line the stretch of the Marine Drive, I was lulled into a state of inaction. That is the only excuse I have for not capturing any pictures of this awesome stretch. The Chandrabhaga beach with its pristine white sands and awesome blue waters has got to be one of the prettiest beaches of India but with dangerous currents in this area is mostly avoided by the tourists.

We reached Konark just a little after 3. This 13th century temple built by King Langula Narasimha Deva is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With most of it now in ruins, whatever structure that remains standing to this day bears testimony to the great architecture marvel that it must have been. The major part of this structure is made up of Khandalite, a ferrous rich stone (with reddish appearance) that has been proposed as the major reason behind its collapse. The other stone used is Chlorite ( blackish color), which is mainly employed for door frames, some intricate carvings and a few idols. Some snaps of the temple:



The main structure that remains, it was filled up with sand by the ASI to prevent any further collapse.



Two of the twelve wheels of the elaborate chariot of the Sun God, after which the temple is modeled.





The beautiful and intricate carvings that adorn the walls. Even though most of it is eroded, it still manages to take one's breath away.

After spending about two hours exploring the temple and happily posing for the family album, we decided to head back to our vehicle which was parked quite a distance away. The trip back to BBSR was uneventful and took a little more than an hour. Thus came to an end our short yet memorable Puri-Konark trip.



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