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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Black Rice Sushi ( Welcome 2017 )

A fresh new year. New hopes. And new beginnings. Without any doubt, it is that day of the year when we are at out optimistic best. The more superstitious among us would like to put the events unfolding on this very day as the harbinger for the rest of the year. But it is important to believe that while cosmic events do influence our life, we too are an integral part of the universe. And the vibes (both positive/negative) given out by us are ultimately adding to the energies that surround us.

Apart from the 'positive thinking', 'eating healthy' happens to be one of my top resolutions for 2017. While it is true that I did not actually wait for the year to commence to get on with my resolutions, I plan to stick to it with greater diligence this year. It includes cutting down on meat and fish to introducing more of superfoods like broccoli, black rice, quinoa, chia seeds in my everyday diet. Plus there will be greater focus on native superfoods like amaranth, spinach, gooseberry, turmeric, alsi (flaxseeds) and subza(basil) .

Starting the year on a healthy note, the first post of 2017 is a super healthy 'Black Rice Sushi' with a filling of tofu, avocado, carrot and cucumber. This is one recipe that can easily be made a part of one's lunchbox. I am skipping the Nori sheets as I want to keep it completely vegan. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 35 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1 cup sticky Black rice
  • 1 small carrot (cut into long pieces)
  • 1 small cucumber (cut into long pieces)
  • Tofu (cut into long pieces)
  • avocado (cut into long pieces)
For the Sushi rice vinegar or 'Tezu' -
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar ( use rice vinegar if you have it )
  • a drops of soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp water
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • salt taste

Preparation  - Soak the black rice overnight.

Steam the carrot pieces till tender.

Mix the ingredients for the 'Tezu' in a cup.

Cook the black rice till it is slightly mushy. Add the tezu and mix it in. Allow to stand till it cools down and is just bearable to touch.

Take a aluminium foil and spread some of the black rice in a rectangle shape keeping about 1 1/2 - 2 inch space from the margins.

Place the tofu and the vegetable slices in the center of the rectangle. Lightly moisten the edges of the rice.

Gently grabbing the foil from the sides and using your fingers, roll it over keeping the vegetables in the center. Roll over a few times .

Remove the aluminium foil

Take a very sharp knife, moisten it and cut the sushi into 1 1/2 inch sized pieces.

[ Do check the video at the bottom of this post to learn the tricks of making a Sushi. ]

Serve it with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.

How to roll a sushi without using a Nori sheet -

Friday, December 30, 2016

Thai Black Rice and Coconut Pudding ( Vegan Recipe )

Black rice. There is something magical about this ingredient that goes beyond it's qualities. Yes, it is highly Instagram-worthy. And cooked the right way, it can induce nothing less than a a food-orgasm. Plus it is one of the most versatile ingredients that I have worked with. Very filling and a little quantity goes a long way. Given a chance I could go on and on about my sentiments for this wonder ingredient but for now, I can just about summarize it as a mixture of love bordering on obsession.

Back to this 'Sticky Black rice and Coconut Pudding' recipe, I fell in love with the very sound of it. Caught it for the first time while surfing on television and looked up the recipe on the web. But since I had no access to black rice at that point of time, it was relegated to some corner of my memory. Only recently did it pop up once again when I was collating all the black rice dishes that I have worked on in the last few months. I realized that I had missed out on the very first dish which had triggered my interest in this wonderfully exotic ingredient.

A native Thai recipe made with the short grained glutinous black rice, I have not made any major changes to it . Except for substituting the Thai rice with another short grained variety cultivated in India. Original recipe is taken from - thekitchn.com . Don't mistake it for the Kavuni Arisi Payasam (from Chettinad) or the Amubi (from North East India ) .

Read on -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -
  • 1 cup black rice 
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup thin coconut milk
  • 4 heaped teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • thin coconut slices for garnishing

Preparation - Wash and soak the black rice in 3 cups of water. Let it stand overnight.

Cooking - Transfer the soaked rice along with the soaking water and the thin coconut milk to a thick-bottomed saucepan, Bring to a boil on low heat.

Once the rice is about 3/4th done, add the brown sugar and salt. Let it simmer till all the liquid dries up. (The last 3-4 mins are crucial and one has to be careful not to burn the pudding.)

Around the same time, dry roast the coconut slices on a iron skillet. Take care to keep the heat low else they tend to burn. Once they are light brown , remove from the flame and keep aside.

Garnish with the roasted coconut slices. Serve warm.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Black Rice And Pumpkin Soup ( My experiments with Ambila )

 IMP - Black Rice And Pumpkin Soup is an original recipe created by the blogger and has been published for the first time on oriyarasoi.com.

Ambila. Sweet, sour and with a hint of chilli, this traditional soup from Odisha is a hot favorite during the winter months. It has quite a few variations in terms of the vegetables used and the choice of souring ingredient. While availability of certain ingredients is definitely an important factor, the major influence lies in the preference of the local populace. Though dried mango is the most popular souring agent used, tamarind or even sour curd is preferred by certain people. The sweetness also varies as per personal preferences. Strangely enough, the absence of any sweetening agent is enough to label it as 'Kanji', another close cousin of the ambila.

While both these traditional recipes are quite popular in my home, I picked the 'Ambila' for a makeover because of the 'sweet' component. The strong earthy flavor of black rice pairs rather well with coconut and jaggery, both of which are integral to the 'Ambila'. The deep hue (anthocyanins) of the black rice adds a whole new appeal to this traditional recipe.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 35 mins ( plus 30 mins soaking )

Ingredients - 

  • 1/2 cup sliced pumpkin
  • 3-4 tbsp black rice ( coarsely ground )
  • 4 tsp jaggery ( or as per taste )
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1-2 dried mangoes pieces
  • 1/2 tsp pancha phutana 
  • 1-2 dry red chilis
  • 1 1/2 tsp canola/rice bran oil
  • a  pinch of turmeric
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Soak the coarsely powdered rice for 30 mins in 1/2 cup. 

Soak the dried mango pieces separately in 1/3 cup water

Cooking - Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a deep vessel. Add the pumpkin slices along with a pinch of turmeric. Fry for 3-4 mins.

Add about 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the soaked rice and let it boil for 15 mins.

Stir in the jaggery and grated coconut. Boil for 5 mins.

Finally add the dried mango along with the water used for soaking. Adjust the salt. Keep boiling for 5 mins.

In another small pan, heat 1 tsp oil. Add the broken red chili and pancha phutana. Once it starts spluttering, pour it over the ambila.

Serve hot.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Black Rice Modak ( Sijha Manda gets a Makeover )

IMP - Black Rice Modak  is an original recipe created by the blogger and has been published for the first time on oriyarasoi.com.

In Odisha, we have a very famous proverb which goes like 'bara masa teyra parba'. It means that the number of festivals that we celebrate outnumbers even the number of months in a year. And 'pithas' are a very important part of most Odia festivals. Traditionally made with rice, they are usually stuffed with a sweet coconut / chenna filling. A 'Pitha' is not very sweet like a dessert. Since most 'pithas' are usually served with a lentil curry or even warm milk, just a hint of sweetness is enough.

Sadly, semolina (suji) or maida/atta usually replacing rice in most 'pithas' these days. As people increasing view rice as a villain which causes weight gain, rice is being edged out from these traditional recipes. But while the 'pitha' made with semolina or refined flour may taste better, it can hardly be termed as an healthy choice. Switching to a better grade of rice seemed the most plausible decision. Being a food blogger, one is not only aware of current food trends but also the nutritional values of most ingredients. Hence, when I decided to keep it healthy as well as tasty, black rice turned out to be the top contender among all other ingredients.

Sijha Manda or Sukla Manda is one of the most popular 'pithas' from Odisha. It is an integral part of all the Lakshmi pujas. It can be described as a steamed rice dumpling with a sweetened stuffing. Hardly surprising that it was one of the first few recipes that came to my mind when I wanted to experiment with black rice as an ingredient in a traditional Odia dish. 

Read on for the recipe - 

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients - 

  • 1 cup black rice
  • 2 tsp semolina
  • 2 tbsp almond meal ( powdered almonds )
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • jaggery as per taste ( 3-4 tbsp )
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 2 pinch cardamom
  • 2 pinch salt

Preparation - Wash and soak the rice for 1 hour.

Strain and spread out the rice grains on a flat surface. Let it dry in the sun for 2 hours or till surface moisture is no longer perceptible. 

Grind into a fine powder.

Cooking - Boil 2 cups of water in a pan. Add the jaggery, ghee, coconut and almond meal.

Once the jaggery is completely dissolved, add the powdered rice in small batches while stirring continuously. Take care to avoid the formation of lumps.

Cook on low flame for about 10 mins. Then add the semolina and cook for another 5 mins till everything forms a tight dough. Remove and keep aside to cool it down.

Once the temperature is bearable, rub a little ghee on your hands and knead the dough for 5 mins.

Divide the dough into 10-12 portions . Give a desired shape to each portion.

Steam the dumplings for 10-15 mins.

Serve warm.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fuzz-free By Choice !!

'It is always about choice', I have maintained. And going fuzz-free is a personal choice. I love the feel of my own skin and hence will continue doing it even in the face of fly-by-night trends like bushy eyebrows and fuzzy underarms. While these trendsetters want to make it seem like the 'feminist' thing, my idea of feminism is all about making my own choices. Even if it means bucking the trends.

image credits : summerbeautystudio.com         

After trying various methods of hair removal, I have discovered that 'Epilators' are the thing for me. They are handy, can be used at will and cost effective in the long run. Best part is that you no longer need to schedule a whole afternoon for a salon appointment as you can do it anytime in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

Here are some reasons why I love using Epilators -

1. Addition - Smooth skin feels sensational. Once you get used to it, there is no turning back. And why not go for it when it can be achieved at the touch of a button. That too anywhere and anytime !!

image credits: walmart.com

2. No waiting period - Waiting for hair to grow back to a particular length so that it can be waxed is quite trying. Not to mention having to forgo wearing those shorts and sexy dresses during this period. God forbid if that cute guy asks you out on a date during one of those days !!

3. It lasts long - Yes. You read it right. Up to 4 weeks at a stretch. With Braun Silk-Epil 9 Skinspa ,
long lasting silky smooth skin is finally a reality.

Image credits : www.moo.review

4. NO need to step out of your home - It is easy and fuss-free ! Plus regular usage helps to lighten and lessen the hair over a period of time.

5. Helps save money - It is cheaper than the salon appointments. In fact one can buy a very good Epilator at less than the annual cost of salon visits (for hair removal only) !!

image credits: bankrate.com

6. No worry about which dress to wear - It is possible to wear those tweeny-weeny outfits everyday when you own an Epilator. And with no ugly stubs to mar those pins, you only need to wear about the temperature and not the outfit.

7. It does not hurt - Braun has a unique epilator head which allows it to be used in the shower. As the skin and hair is in a more relaxed state after a warm shower, the pain is considerably less .

image credits: walmart.com

8. It is not just for the legs - Braun epilators are multi-taskers that can be used on the hands, underarms, face and even the most sensitive bikini areas.

9. It is suited for sensitive skin - Do not worry about skin irritation even if you have the most sensitive skin. Use it after a warm shower and opt for speed 1 which is suitable for sensitive skin.

10. No ingrown hairs - Yay !! Ingrown hairs can mar the appearance of the cleanest fuzz free skin. With a super efficient Deep Exfoliation Brush, Braun Silk-Epil 9 SkinSpa2 takes care of even the most stubborn hair.

11. It is a Confidence booster - Yes. When you look good, you feel confident. And Epilators help you achieve that.

12. It is endorsed by none other than Jessica Alba - When Hollywood royalty says so, so be it.

image credits : www.gotceleb.com

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Kahwa Bubble Tea ( And the last Collab for 2016 )

'Eat clean, workout everyday and live healthy'. This just about summarizes my health resolutions for the next year. And while everyone is waiting for the clock to strike midnight on the eve of New Year for going ahead with their resolutions, I believe in doing it 'now'. Yes, my resolutions are very much 'on the floor' as I am consciously making healthy choices even as I eat out (rarely though) during this festive period. For example, just last night I opted for an 'Penne Arrabiata' instead of digging into those sinful pizzas, pies and creamy pastas that everyone was ordering. And picked a plain lime water to go with it. No soda . No sugar. Hardly a bad choice when I think about the number of calories that I avoided in one single meal. Small changes that go a long long way in one's battle against the bulge.

And since I am totally focused on the 'eat clean' goal for 2017, 'drink clean' also becomes an inseparable part of my goal by default. It is hardly possible to meet the goal of keeping one's system clean if one is guzzling up on those chemical/alcohol/sugar laden drinks. And for that sole reason, I will be sharing more about natural drinks on the blog in the coming year.

Coming back to our last collaboration ( with Parinaaz's A Dollop Of That ) for 2016, we are sharing the recipes for some celebratory drinks/mocktails that will add zing to your house parties. Skipping the alcohol, we are keeping it colorful and refreshing. My contribution is a Kahwa flavored bubble tea. Sourced from the pristine Kashmir valley, this variety of green tea is much more flavorful that the others I have tried till date. And as far as bubble teas are concerned, they are going to be the next big thing ! Don't you want to be the first one to introduce it to your guests ?

Read on -

Preparation Time - 20 mins ( plus standby time for soaking the tapioca pearls )

Ingredients -
  • 1/2 cup tapioca pearls ( the bigger the better )
  • 3 tsp Kahwa Green Tea ( or use regular green tea )
  • a few strands of saffron
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 green cardamom
  • honey as per taste
  • 4-5 cups water 
  • edible blue color ( I used dried Aparajita flowers. also called 'clitoria ternatea' )

Preparation - Wash and soak the tapioca pearls overnight.

Take out 2 tsp of the soaked pearls and add to a saucepan along with 2 cups of water and a pinch of saffron. Boil till you get a thick gel like consistency.

Color the remaining pearls with the blue dye.

Boil 4 cups water in a saucepan along with cinnamon and cardamom. Switch off flame after 5 mins. Add the green tea and cover. Keep aside for 5 mins. Strain and let it cool down. Pop it into the fridge for 15-20 mins. Sweeten with honey as per preference.

For assembling the final drink - Place 2 tbsp of the blue pearls at the bottom of a tall glass. Top it up with the golden saffron flavored gel. Now very carefully, top it up with the chilled Kahwa tea.

Serve immediately.

Don't forget to check out another amazing drink by an awesome blogger -

Blue Mule Mocktail by Parinaaz !!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fried Forbidden Rice ( Easy Chinese Fried Rice recipe with Black Rice )

Fried rice with black rice ! I could almost imagine a pair of slit eyes fixed on me in a stern stare even as the 'Fu Manchu' mustache quivered ever so slightly in anger. I barely suppressed a laugh as I imagined the receding hairline that lay hidden beneath the Imperial crown. Would he have lunged at me and snatched away my delectable meal ? Or would he have ordered the royal guards to behead me ? After all, I was relishing the 'Forbidden rice' which was exclusively meant for the Chinese emperor.

No, I am not referring to a certain Timur/ Taimur who is once again hogging the limelight after all these years. Nor do I have anything against his infant namesake who might end up being the butt of all kinds of 'lame' jokes. For those who missed the humor, the original Taimur was actually lame as suggests his nickname 'Timur-e-Lang'. The guy is rumored to have perished while trying to get past the great wall so it must have been someone from the Ming dynasty who forbid the peasant class from consuming  black rice. But anyways, the point is that this strikingly beautiful hued rice was once the exclusive forte of the royals. And for a good reason !

Those who have been following my blog religiously must be quite aware that I have been smitten with it for sometime. And though this one is yet another of my experiments with the nutty flavored rice which turns a deep purple once cooked, it made me fall in love with it once again. For the umpteenth time .

Quick, easy-to-prepare and heavenly in taste, this one is a must-try. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 cups cooked black rice
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar ( or rice vinegar )
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (heaped) brown sugar
  • 3-4 finely chopped garlic cloves 
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot pieces 
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped spring onions 
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Take the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chili powder, 2 pinch salt and 3 tsp water in a cup. Mix well.

Cooking - Heat a skillet. Add the sesame oil.

Once oil is hot, thrown in the garlic and let it release it's aroma.

Add the vegetable and saute on high for 2 mins.

Add the sauce and cook for a minute.

Stir in the cooked black rice. Stir fry on high for 2-3 mins.

Adjust salt.

Remove from the flame and serve hot with some fried tofu.

Check Out more Black Rice Recipes. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Mom. Cockroach !! It is hiding behind that bottle of hand wash", screams my five year old.  I almost panicked for a moment as I had a batch of golden brown cookies baking in the oven and the ingredients for an orange Bundt cake lying scattered all over the kitchen platform. " Ahha !! Smart move but better luck next ", I retorted back even as I mentally thanked LAL HIT for eliminating these pests from my kitchen. My little one had just pulled a fast one on me in an attempt to grab a fistful of choco-chips lying on the platform.

The New Year preparations are in full swing. Between multiple batches of cookies and muffins going into the oven, I am running short on time to give a thorough scrub to the kitchen area on a daily basis. But LAL HIT ensures that my kitchen stays roach-free throughout the month and I no longer worry about food poisoning. Given that cockroaches tend to crawl through the most unhygienic nooks of one's home, even a single one is cause enough for concern. And especially so with the kids who are much more susceptible to such infections. No wonder LAL HIT has become an indispensable part of my monthly kitchen cleaning regimen. Full-fledged spraying of LAL HIT  in the kitchen in the beginning of the month followed by another round of spraying in those deep corners, crevices, cracks and gaps after a fortnight ensure that my kitchen stays free from those creepy crawlies. And the all-new fresh fragrance does not even leave behind any tell-tale signs of pest control. I recommend it to anyone who is having a tough time with these unwanted guests.

Now coming back to the batch of golden brown cookies that I mentioned earlier, it is the simplest yet dependable 'Chocolate Chip cookies' recipe that I own. Nothing exotic about it. Just sheer blissfulness that comes from the feeling of familiarity. Do not be surprised if you are flooded with memories of biting into grandma’s cookies. It is impossible to stop at just one. Even my kid feels the same way about these cookies. The entire batch is almost gone even as I post the recipe on my blog.  No wonder I end up making multiple batches every year during the New Year period for gifting to near and dear ones. And more than half of it is on request! A fact that vouches for it’s popularity.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 1/2 cups Maida or All purpose flour
  • 75 gm butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence 
  • 2 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate chip cookies

Preparation - Melt the butter. Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk together till sugar melts.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl.

Mix the dry ingredients into the batter. Add the chocolate chips.

Take tablespoonfuls of the dough and roll into balls with slightly wet hands. Place on a baking sheet at a distance of about 3-4 cm apart. These will flatten as they bake.

Preheat oven to 175 C . Place the baking tray and bake for 12-14 mins or till a golden brown.

Transfer to cooling rack , Once cooled store in airtight jars.

Happy Baking !! And don't forget to leave all your cockroach worries to LAL HIT !!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Root Vegetables Roast ( A Vegan Side for Christmas Dinner )

As I opened today's newspapers, a disturbing piece of news caught my attention. Farmers in UP are being forced to plough their potato produce into the fields, dump them on the roadsides or even abandon them outside the cold storage facility for lack of buyers. Before you dismiss this as yet another side-effect of the much debated 'demonetization' policy of the Modi government, I need to remind you that the story has been much the same every time there is a bumper harvest. India still needs to figure out how to store it's surplus produce and facilitate an effective distribution channel to ease the hunger problems of the poor. Especially potatoes, which are increasingly seen as one of the most cost effective solutions for solving world hunger.

While grains have long been the mainstay of the population in most countries, the yield of these are currently stagnating after reaching a peak thanks to the green revolution. And in turn, that is causing the prices to spike to levels that have been unheard of. In comparison, spuds or potatoes have never received enough attention and they continue to be farmed in an inefficient manner in most parts of the world. Apart from being a good source of nutrients, potatoes take less effort and time to cultivate which is why the scientists have been focused on developing varieties they can survive and thrive in the most trying climatic conditions. No wonder we have countries like India, China, Peru and Malawi cultivating the potato in huge numbers. In fact, one of the shining example of the tuber being effectively utilized to solve nutritional deficiency comes from Uganda. A GM version of the sweet potato is being used to deliver the daily Vitamin A requirements of their children in order to prevent child stunting. It is high time we adopt and popularize this wonderful vegetable !

On my part, I am very fond of tubers, especially the ones available during the winter months like the sweet potato and yams. Combining them with root vegetables and doing a quick roast is an easy way to include more of it in your diet. Since they are quite popularly used in the pot roast prepared during Christmas, I decided to do my own vegan take on it. Here is the recipe which turned out to be just yummy -

Preparation Time - 45 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup peeled and cubed potatoes
  • 1 cup peeled and cubed  sweet potato
  • 1 cup peeled and cubed carrot
  • 1 cup peeled and cubed beetroot
  • 1 cup cubed pumpkin/squash (retain skin)
  • 3-4 garlic heads
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil
  • a drizzle of honey
  • sprinkling of dried rosemary
  • sprinkling of dried oregano
  • a dash of rock/sea salt
  • a dash of freshly ground pepper
  • rind from one orange ( optional )

Preparation - Separate the beets from the rest of the vegetables as we don't want the pink juices to stain everything. Chop the garlic heads into halves along the length.

Mix the oil, honey and seasonings in a cup.

Cooking - Heat an oven to 200 C . Spread the vegetables over a tray taking care to use a separate one for the beets.

Place in the oven for 6-7 mins or till they begin to look a little tender .

Remove from oven. Add the dressing, toss to coat the vegetables evenly and put it back into the oven at 200 C.

After about 20 mins, throw the orange rind ( roughly torn ) over the vegetables in the first tray.

Wait for 5-6 mins and then remove the first tray containing the vegetables . Let the beets roast for another another 10-15 mins.

Remove and mix together.

Serve as a side with your Christmas meal.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Eggless Turmeric Coconut Cake ( A Christmas Collaboration )

This year saw the humble turmeric grab the spotlight on an international stage ! The 'haldi-wala doodh' reinvented itself as the gourmet showstopper aka the 'turmeric latte' . Long relegated to the kitchen shelves of every Indian household, the western world is warming up to the superfood status of this miraculous spice. The fact that it possesses a beautiful burnished hue is a major factor behind it's culinary appeal to the West.

When scouting for Christmas recipes, this wonder ingredient was on mind all the time. I wanted to incorporate the beautiful hue and aroma of turmeric in my cake but in a manner which is very different from the Sfoof, a Lebanese tea cake. This cake draws it's inspiration from the 'Enduri pitha', a steamed dish from Odisha which is very similar to the Konkani 'Patholi'. It is infused with the sweet aroma of the turmeric leaves, cardamom and coconut. Interestingly, coconut cakes are an important part of the Christmas celebrations in the tropical countries like Sri Lanka and even Australia.

While I wanted to use a few drops of freshly squeezed turmeric juice to lend that golden color to my cake, I couldn't find some on my last trip to the local vegetable market. Had to settle for the powdered one. But the flavor turned out to be very different from anything that I have ever tried. Overall, the cake was extremely rich, moist, dense and something that will reminds one of the tropical climes. Read on for the recipe -

[ Don't forget to scroll down to check out a true blue Christmas pudding by my dear friend Parinaaz ]

Preparation Time -

Ingredients -

  • 3 cups Maida / all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Sugar 
  • 1 cup Ghee 
  • 2 cups Yogurt
  • 3-4 tbsp condensed milk
  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 2 pinch turmeric or 1 tsp freshly squeezed turmeric juice
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
  • Turmeric leaves to line the baking tray (optional)
  • a pinch of salt
  • a few spoonfuls of freshly squeezed coconut milk to thin the batter if required

Preparation - Sift all the dry ingredients together.

Add the ghee, sugar, condensed milk and curd a mixing bowl. Whisk gently till the sugar is dissolved.

Fold in the dry ingredients taking care to whisk in the same direction.  Finally fold in the grated coconut.

Line the baking tray with the turmeric leaves. Apply a thin layer of ghee on the leaves. Pour the batter into the baking tray.

Baking - Pre-heat the oven at 180 C for 10 mins.

Place the tray in the oven. Bake at 180 C for 35-40 mins or till a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let it cool down.

Invert onto a cooling rack and remove the turmeric leaves. Once it is completely cool, put into pieces and serve.

Store the rest in an airtight container.

Check out this fabulous Christmas pudding from A Dollop Of That !! -

Christmas Pudding with brandy sauce !!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Thai Raw Papaya Salad

"But everyone is posting those great cakes and cookies these days. Who will relish a salad when such tempting food is staring them in the face ?", hubby voiced his concerns.

"Huh ! I have always been a rebel. Love to buck the trend", pat came the reply with my mind on autopilot mode even as I  photo-shopped the clicks. Zap. My mind is jolted out it's state of inertia. Newton's first law is at play with my husband being the external force. "Did you just say 'Great' ? What is it with you guys ? Do they really have to use the word 'great' in every situation? Or did your entire clan execute a collective 'Shift + Delete' on words like awesome, gorgeous, divine, delirious, delectable, etc."

He gives me a blank look. I roll my eyes before letting off some steam .

"How was the movie ?" . "Great".

"How is the butter chicken ? I slaved the entire evening over it.". "Great".

"How is my new dress ? ". "Great"

" I think I have lost some weight. Can you make out any difference ? ". A cursory look followed by the inevitable. "Great".

Hubby shifts to damage control mode. Physics makes way for statistics as he talks about trending keywords, blog views and stuff like that. "Don't crib if your blog post fails to garner the desired hits !", is his final statement as he rests his case.

"Well then...maybe I have to give them something else to look at ! How about I pose in that size 8 dress that I bought last week ? Of course I will be holding the salad in one hand ! Maybe that can give them some goals ! Or resolutions for next year ", I reply quite cheekily. Now it's his turn to roll his eyes .

No guesses on who won the debate ! But at the end of the day, this salad is a sure shot winner. And not to forget, your ultimate weapon in the battle of the bulge. Full of fiber and free from any fattening dressings, it is easy to prepare and delicious enough to eat a whole bowlful just before heading out for a party. ( Don't forget to thank me if those luscious desserts and sinful meats start to look a whole lot less appealing !! )

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 cups raw papaya ( juliennes )
  • 1 medium sized tomato ( thinly sliced )
  • 2 tsp soy sauce ( or fish sauce if you are not vegetarian )
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 garlic flakes 
  • 2 tsp minced coriander roots 
  • 1 red chili ( de-seeded and cut into thin strips )
  • 1 small red onion ( or spring onion )
  • a pinch of salt
  • roasted and lightly crushed peanuts 

Preparation - Dunk the raw papaya and tomato slices in cold water and refrigerate for 30 mins.

Take the brown sugar, garlic, coriander roots, lime juice and soy sauce in a small cup. Muddle together.

Strain the vegetables and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the seasoning along with the chili, onion and peanuts. Add salt. Toss everything together.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Schezwan Matar Chaat ( A Crazy Indo-Chinese Fusion experiment )

Stick to a desi palate ? Or try some Chinese 'chatka' for a change (does not matter even if it is for the 500th time). One of the perennial dilemmas that I face everytime I venture out for some street food is to make up my mind. Walking down one of those lanes is sheer torture for me with the tongue tickling panipuris, chaats, pav-bhajis and dahi vadas trying to lure me with their tantalizing appearance even as the sinful aromas drifting from a nearby Chinese stall has my mind in the throes of what can only be described as a 'culinary orgasm'. Often I end up ordering both. Only to regret wasting food. That is if I am lucky enough to escape the obligatory tummy-ache.

It was during yet another bout of such a dilemma on an idle winter afternoon that I thought of marrying two of my all time favorites so that I could enjoy both at the same time. "Only an idle brain can come up with something so insane ", retorted the husband as he promptly dismissed the idea. "Hah ! Wait till I execute my idea. You will be asking for seconds", replied back the incensed rebel (aka me). Though the first trial did not go as well as I had expected, a little bit of perseverance paid off. It was no longer a toss between the two. Instead I had the perfect amalgamation of two of my favorite street foods.

A simple ragda chaat is infused with the flavors of Schezwan egg noodles. Minus the noodles bit of course. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients - 

  • 1 cup yellow peas (soaked overnight)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium sized potato
  • 1 large capsicum
  • 1 small carrot 
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced onions
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced cabbage
  • 5-6 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • chopped green chillis 
  • 3-4 tsp Schezwan sauce
  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 2 pinch garam masala
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnishing
  • fried papad for garnishing 

Preparation - Wash and cook the yellow peas with 2 cups water, the potato, turmeric and salt to taste. Remove from flame after 2-3 whistles. The peas should be thoroughly cooked without turning mushy.

Drain the excess water. Peel the potato, roughly mash it up and add it to the cooked peas.

Cut the capsicum and carrot into long slices.

Cooking - Heat a wok. Add 2 tsp oil.

Add the finely chopped garlic and green chilis. Once the garlic is fragrant, add all the veggies and saute on high for 2-3 minutes so that they do not lose their crispiness. 

Add the sugar, schezwan sauce, soy sauce, tomato sauce and vinegar. Toss for 1 minute.

Add the boiled peas and potato along with a generous sprinkle of water. Adjust the salt.

Cook for 2-3 mins. Sprinkle garam masala and mix in. (If it looks too dry at this point, sprinkle some more water. The yellow peas tend to absorb a lot of water)

Around the same time, scramble the eggs in another skillet.

Transfer the schezwan chaat to the serving bowls/plates. Top with the scrambled eggs, sliced onions, more green chili (optional), crushed papad and cilantro.

Serve immediately.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Avocado Mayo and Sun-dried Tomatoes Dip

It is the 'Holiday season' and we all love having friends over for long chats. However when those conversations spill well beyond the meal hours and hunger pangs start to gnaw, we feel obliged to offer some fillers or finger foods. While frying a batch of french fries or cheesy nuggets may seem like the easier option, it sounds rather run-of-the-mill and not a very healthy choice too.

Time to switch to some gourmet snacking with real vegetable chips and a nice home made dip. These amazing vegetable chips from Terra are not just visually striking and much more healthier, they taste just out of this world when paired with a gourmet dip. I made this one in less that 5 minutes and let it sit in the fridge for half an hour for the flavors to come together. While the buttery texture of avocado is enough to give a nice texture to this dip, I added a dash of vegan mayo to enhance the creaminess. The tang of sun-dried tomatoes gets an added zing from a generous splash of apple cider vinegar. Garlic gives it the right note of pungency while the touch of heat from the Mexican Pasilla chile is enough to tickle the taste bud. The sweetness of honey rounds it off.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 5 mins ( plus 30 mins standby )

Ingredients -
  • 1 avocado
  • 2-3 sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vegan mayo
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/3 tsp Sprig Mexican Chile Pasilla 
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp chopped cilantro

Preparation - Halve the avocado and remove the stone. Scoop out the flesh into a small blender cup. Add all the remaining ingredients to the same jar. Buzz into a smooth mixture.

Let it chill for sometime in the refrigerator for the flavors to blend in.

Serve with vegetable chips or even better with crudites.

I totally recommend serving this dip with some Blue Terra Chips as it serves as the perfect foil to the starchy crispness of these exotic blue potatoes. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Pumpkin, Black Rice and Sun Dried Tomatoes Salad ( Christmas Special Colab )

These days there is a slight nip in the air, a certain spring in my steps, a smile on my lips and a rather familiar melody keeps playing in my head at all times of the day. And all this is making me feel more generous than ever. Little wonder that they also call Christmas as the 'season of giving'. No prizes for guessing that it is none other than 'Jingle bells' that's been on my mind all this time.

And I suspect that everyone who has been brought up in the sleepy little town of Rourkela also feels the same way about this festival. Giving the thriving numbers of the Christian community in our place, most of us were blessed to have a very special christian friend. For me, Christmas was all about hogging on cakes and more desserts at my special friend's house. And walking through the rows of shops selling all those glitzy stars and baubles! Of course living near a church and studying in a convent meant that those carols too had become an integral part of those days. No wonder Christmas makes me feel so nostalgic !

Coming back to the food, while it is the cakes, breads and pot-roasts which occupy center-stage during the Christmas festivities, the sides are equally important in my opinion as they help in balancing out the entire meal. And with the sugary stuff tipping the calorific scales, a filling salad is all I can ask for. Keeping it vegan is a personal choice though. While I prefer rice or pasta, feel free to use ricotta or feta cheese as a substitute (though I would rather not call it so as the former is carbs while the latter is all protein). And with this being a collaboration post, there are more such savory recipe ideas to help you out with a Christmas lunch/brunch/dinner.

Read on for my rather simple and yet wholesome recipe that boasts of a melange of flavors ( imagine the earthy flavor of spinach, the nuttiness of the black rice, the sweetness of the caramelized pumpkin and the tartness of the sun-dried tomatoes ) that have just been brought together in a manner that invokes sheer delight. And I bet you would calling for the seconds instead of reaching out for that rather sinful cheesecake -

Preparation Time - 40 mins

Ingredients - 

  • 1 cup cubed pumpkin
  • 1/3 cups black rice
  • 1/2 cup spinach (blanched)
  • 7-8 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • freshly ground pepper
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Toss the pumpkin cubes with some of the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle salt and put in the oven. Roast at 180 C till it shows signs of browning / caramelization. 

Cook the black rice separately till it is cooked yet slightly firm to touch.

Mix the olive oil, honey, orange juice and remaining vinegar in a bowl.

Take the black rice, roasted pumpkin, blanched spinach, chopped sundried tomatoes in a bowl. Sprinkle the dressing all over it. Toss together.

Season with salt and ground pepper.

Serve warm. Or slightly chilled ( letting it sit in the fridge also allows the flavors to come together which makes it taste better ).

And there is more to be discovered as my amazing blogger friends share some of their delectable Christmas recipe !! Scroll down for more drool-worthy discoveries - 

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