August 24, 2011

Methi Mushroom Malai

There are simple dishes. There are yummy, creamy, restaurant-like dishes. And then there are those that are both. The ones that are both are not common. This is one of those dishes. Simple to make and yet classy affairs. I had gotten bored of our rice-dal-vegetable-sambar-rasam routine and was craving something different. I had all the ingredients on hand and made this last night. The perfect accompaniment to hot rotis.

2 cups Fenugreek Leaves, washed and chopped
½ tsp Cumin Seeds
2 cups Mushrooms, quartered
½ cup Milk
2 tbsp Cream
¼ tsp Sugar (optional)
1 tbsp Oil + 1 tsp Oil
Salt to taste

To be ground to a paste:
1 Onion
2 Green Chillies
½” piece Ginger
2 cloves Garlic
2 tbsp Cashews
1 tsp Poppy Seeds (optional)
Saute the mushrooms in one teaspoon of oil. Keep aside.

Heat the tablespoon of oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the fenugreek leaves and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the paste and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the milk, cream, sugar, salt and mushrooms. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Serve with rotis.

August 23, 2011

Eggless Butter Cookies

I have always loved this time of the year. It sort of marks the beginning of the festival season for me.  Janmashtami or Sri Krishna Jayanti is one of the more important festivals in my family. Now that I have a little Krishna of my own, it becomes even more important.

As always, there was some confusion about the dates. I just picked a date that was convenient to me and celebrated the festival. I have never tried making any traditional sweets. I was tempted to try the 7-cup cake, but better sense prevailed. I like the story of little Krishna loving butter and ghee, but I give my story a modern twist. I have believed that if Krishna lived in this day and age, he'd probably have liked chocolate and cookies just as much. So while Krishna must have had his fair share of seedai and murukku from the other households, my naivedyam this year was a plate of eggless butter cookies.

¾ cup(generous) Flour
1/8 tsp Baking Soda
¼ cup Powdered Sugar
1/3 cup Butter
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

Melt the butter. Cream the sugar and the melted butter until well blended.
Sift the flour with the baking soda. Add this to the sugar-butter mixture. Add the vanilla essence. Make a dough and divide into small balls. Flatten each ball onto a cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.

Srijayanti is celebrated in my father's side of the family today. So, I am not late in wishing you all a very Happy Krishna Jayanti.

August 22, 2011

Very Berry Vegan Cake

The cake monsoon is on at The Singing Chef. I would like to believe that the season will change shortly or else I may need a new wardrobe very soon. I am on a baking spree and there is no proverbial light at the end of this tunnel.

I have had a lot of people ask me for eggless versions of my cakes. I have to admit, I never really baked too many eggless cakes. And whenever I absolutely needed to, I used the egg replacer powder that one gets in supermarkets. But for about a month, I was asked by Baby A's paediatrician to stay off certain foods to test if he was allergic to something. When something is denied to you, you tend to miss it the most. No eggs, no nuts, no dairy. Technically, no cake. But I simply wanted it. And I was adamant to find a way out.

Recipes for eggless cakes are easily available. I didn't find too many vegan cake recipes that jumped out at me and said "Bake me!" I decided that I'd find no-egg and no-dairy alternatives and use them in a regular cake. That is what I did. The resulting cake was a tad dense, but otherwise divine. It was just perfect to satisfy that craving for something sweet when I was being denied everything else.

1/4 cup Oil
1 2/3 cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
2/3 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup of Soy milk (approx.)
1/4 cup Silken Tofu, pureed
1 cup Mixed Berries (Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries and Blackberries)

A few drops Pink Food Colour (optional)
Icing Sugar for dusting

Pour the lemon juice into a large measuring cup. Add enough soy milk to make 1 cup.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease and line an 8" cake tin.
Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) together.

In a mixing bowl, add the pureed silken tofu and sugar and beat well. Add the oil, curdled soy milk and the lemon zest and beat together. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the colour, if using. Add the berries and mix gently.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Dust with icing sugar. Cut into wedges and serve.

August 6, 2011

Mango Melon Smoothie

I know a lot of people who start their day with a bowl of oatmeal porridge. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I've always craved some sort of a breakfast routine and am very envious of those who manage to stick to one. My parents, for example, will start six out of seven days in a week with a bowl of oatmeal. Outwardly, I make fun of them and ask them whether they never tire of it. But secretly, I wish I could be like them. Amma doesn't miss out on the poha, upma, idli, dosa, bread routine at all. She puts them on the dinner table instead of the breakfast table.

For the past few weeks, I have managed to eat oatmeal every morning. I usually mix some curd and left over veggies/dal and eat it. Some days, I blend it with some cumin powder, salt and curd into a salty lassi of sorts. On days when I have fruit on hand and am in the mood for something sweet (which isn't often that early in the morning!), I turn it up into something like this.

1/4 cup Quick Cooking Oats
1/2 cup Water
1 tsp Sugar (optional)
1/4 cup Mango cubes
1/4 cup Melon cubes
1/2 cup Milk

Cook the oats with the water for 3-4 minutes and allow to cool. Blend this along with the other ingredients in a liqiuidizer. Add more milk if you like your smoothie a little thinner.

Pour into a glass and enjoy your breakfast. I can guarantee that something like this will keep you satisfied until lunch time and that you're quite likely to not reach out for something else in between.

August 3, 2011

Orange Ricotta Pound Cake to say Happy Birthday!

It is still raining cakes here. It is not as though I have not been cooking. I have been cooking a great deal. We've been eating new versions of old food as well as a lot of new foods. However, I'm also very hardpressed for time. My almost 6 month old is a handful, but I have also taken up studying for another master's degree. So, even if I do remember to take pictures of the food I make, they don't reach the blog very soon. I hope to change that soon.

One of my discoveries of this year was the Ricotta Pound Cake. I knew I had to bake it again (and again). I decided to stick to the very same original Giada recipe. So, this time it was an Orange cake. My favourite variety of oranges, Honey Murcott, is back in season, so the choice was but obvious. Since there were no modifications to my Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake, I knew this was going to smooth sailing. And it was.

1 1/2 cups Cake Flour/Plain Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups Ricotta Cheese
1 1/2 cups Sugar
3 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 Oranges, zested

A few drops Orange Colour (optional)
Icing sugar, for dusting
Butter and Flour/Spray for preparing the cake tin

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare a 10" round tin. (I used a springform ring mould.)

Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt.

Cream the butter with the sugar and ricotta until the mixture is fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and orange zest and beat well. Add the food colour, if using. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter, adding a little at a time.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool a little and sieve the icing sugar over it.

Ricotta in cakes has to be my discovery of the year! Probably my baking discovery of a lifetime. Afterall, when the spouse who has eaten every kind of cake baked in the last 5 years says, "This is the best cake you've ever made." it must mean something! There couldn't have been a better cake to celebrate today. (However, the real birthday cake is the Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake.)

And as I have in the years that have gone by, regardless of how busy I may be, I come back to the blog to say:

Happy Birthday, Dearest Sachin!

June 9, 2011

Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake

It's raining cakes on The Singing Chef! It was an unsual Saturday for us. We were to have one couple over for dinner. But A was unwell and we needed to make a trip to the paediatrician. So, we cancelled that dinner. As luck would have it, we weren't able to get an appointment for that day. I was feeling bad that we'd cancelled plans with our friends and were unable to take A to the doctor. Later in the day, S got on the phone with another friend and an impromptu dinner was planned.

I hadn't thought about dinner at all, and now suddenly we had a bunch of people coming over. I've become so comfortable with pizza now that I can whip it from scratch in less than the amount of time it would take me for a regular meal. Yes, I do benefit from living in Singapore as I now have the convenience of pre-grated cheese in different combinations.

I had just baked the Mango Cardamom Pound Cake. It smelt heavenly and I'd just cut a couple of slices for the photographs as well as to eat. It was after I cut the cake that I realized it was the birthday of one of our guests the following day. So, I had to bake my second cake. I had been browsing Deeba's blog that day and had bookmarked her Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake. I decided to make it. S decided to decorate the cake with some store bought cream cheese frosting and some whipped cream.

This has to be best "home made" chocolate cake I have eaten. The photo doesn't do it any justice as I took it the following morning, after the cake had been in the fridge for a good 12 hours. I will make this cake again and upload a better picture. But you have to believe me when I say this cake is as good as it gets.

I followed Deeba's recipe for most part and made some minor changes.

1 1/4 cups Cake Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
100 ml Buttermilk
1 tsp Chocolate Essence
Butter and Flour/Spray for preparing the cake tin

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F. Prepare a 10" round tin.
Cream the butter with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the buttermilk and chocolate essence and beat again. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter, adding a little at a time.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool a little and cut into slices when warm using a bread knife.
Thanks Deeba. I know I will use baby A as the perfect excuse and make this cake often when he grows up a little.

June 7, 2011

Mango Cardamom Pound Cake

I have often talked about my love for baking. I started baking a couple of years before I started cooking and so there's always been a soft spot for baking. Yes, there are the calories to think about. There's no running away from all that butter and sugar. Over the past few years, I have learnt to substitute oil for butter, jaggery for sugar, etc, in more recent times, I have rediscovered cakes with real butter. In one month, I baked 3 cakes, all of them pound cakes, and all with real butter.

I thought a lot about why I didn't like using butter. For starters, the thought of measuring the butter always put me off. First you thaw the butter. Then you measure it into a cup. That leaves you with a greasy spoon or knife and a greasy cup. Since I am not like the Food Network chefs who just dump the stuff in the sink, I, by sheer force of habit, have to use my hands to try and remove as much butter from the cup, the spoon and that leaves my fingers extremely greasy. I decided to be more organized, to keep soap and towels handy, and just take the plunge.

I was at the supermarket to buy some butter for these cakes. I found some brands that were sold in 250g packs. But I saw some others which were selling in 227g packs. I was a little irritated at first, but bought the 227g pack anyway. I came home and started to bake the cake. Was there a way out of measuring the butter? I ran a search to see how much half a cup of butter in grams would be. As it turns out, half a cup is about 115g. Voila! The 227g pack of butter was effectively 1 cup. I didn't have to measure the butter at all. I just cut my block in 2 pieces and allowed just one half to thaw. That was one more "happy to be living in Singapore" moment for me.

Enough about my well known love for baking. Coming to my well known love for blogging. I agree that this blog was a little abandoned in between. But I was baking the proverbial bun in my oven, so I was entitled to time off from blogging. As soon as I was able to, I resumed cooking. So, within a week of my delivery, I was dishing out at least one meal every couple of days for my family. And as soon as I could manage it, I resumed blogging too. There are many many reasons I love blogging. The biggest reason is the friends it has given me. And a couple of them are as close to me as some of the friends I have made in real life.

In 2007, Nandita and I were chatting and she told me about this mava cake she wanted to try out. She asked me if I would bake it with her. She in her kitchen in Bombay and I in mine in Gurgaon. It seemed like a terribly exciting thing to do back then. I had so much fun. Compating notes, choosing when to post it, and everything else. A couple of weeks ago, Arundati and I were chatting and she happened to be doing a lot of baking that day. I told her about how I was dragging my feet over a batch of chocolate chip cookies and she asked me to bake alongside her. So, there we were, she in Hyderabad and I in Singapore. She baking cupcakes and I making chocolate chip cookies. Even after 4 years of blogging, it still felt terribly exciting.

I mentioned, on Facebook, how much fun it was to be doing this, and before I knew it, the Baking Club gad been formed. Something like the Sisterhood of Traveling Cake Tins! My other namesake, Arundathi, and Aparna were also keen and we decided to celebrate summer by making pound cakes using mango. We picked recipes that appealed to us and made the cakes. This was even more exciting as there were more people involved and lots more notes being compared. So look out for more mango pound cakes in the blogosphere today.
I picked a recipe from the well known food blogger, Divya. Divya has given me so much happiness by regularly cooking stuff from my blog and blogging about it. She even dedicated one entire post to all the recipes she made my blog. I read it from time to time and always end up getting misty eyed. This is what keeps this blog going.

Divya blogged about her Mango Buttermilk Pound Cake a few days ago and I came across this recipe. This being a recipe that she adapted from Deeba's blog, I decided I had to try it. Two friends, one recipe. I can be sure of a hands down winner! I modified Divya's recipe even more and although I've been baking for almost 25 years now, I forgot to add the baking powder. Despite that, this cake was a winner all the way. The next time, I will add the baking powder, and I'm writing down the recipe here without excluding that ingredient.

1 1/2 cups Cake Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cardamom, Powdered
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
3/4 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
100ml Buttermilk
1/2 cup Mango Pulp
Icing sugar, for dusting (I used the canned variety)
Butter and Flour/Spray for preparing the cake tin

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

Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F. Prepare a 10" round tin. (I used a springform ring mould.)
Cream the butter with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the buttermilk, mango pulp and cardamom and beat again. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter, adding a little at a time.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool a little and sieve the icing sugar over it.

Cut into slices when warm using a bread knife.
This cake was so good that S didn't really want me to share it with others. I, on the other hand, was happy to give the cake to friends because that way I could bake again. And I know I am going to keep baking this one, over and over again.

June 6, 2011

Green Masala Dal

Dal is almost a staple in our house. I don't make it everyday, but I make it very often. On days when it is pasta/noodles or anything other than rice and roti, dal doesn't make an appearance, but it is there to grace our meals on every other occasion.

Growing up, I saw only four varieties of dal being used. Toor dal (red gram dal) was the most common. Moong dal came second and not a close second. Udad and chana dals were relagated to temperings and that was that. Whole udad and whole chana found many uses, as did whole masoor. It is only when I moved out of home that I started stocking every variety of dal available in the market and learnt how to cook with them. Split, unsplit, skin on, skin off, premixed... you get the drift, don't you?

To aid me in my quest for newer dal dishes, I bought myself a pocket book by Tarla Dalal called "Dal". I have tried several recipes of hers from this book and have never been disappointed. This is one such recipe that I have adapted from this book.

1/2 cup Toor Dal
1/2 cup Moong Dal
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tbsp Ghee
Salt to taste

Grind to a paste:

1 cup Coriander Leaves, chopped
1/3 cup Coconut, scraped
1 Onion, roughly chopped
1" piece of Ginger
3 Green Chillies
3 cloves Garlic

Combine all the ingredients for the paste and grind to a paste using as little water as necessary.

Cook the dals with the turneric powder, salt and 3 cups of water. Drain the water, reserving 1/2 cup (or save the rest for rasam). Mash the dals well.

Heat the ghee in a pan and add the ground paste. Saute for 4-5 minutes. Add the mashed dal and the 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

June 4, 2011

Mushroom Pockets

Mushrooms have always been a favourite. There was a time when it was a rare commodity and I'd gotten into the habit of picking up a packet whenever I saw one. Now I live in a city where I don't have to even look and there's every variety of mushroom available in the shelves here. I hope to learn to use them all over time.

I found a punnet of assorted mushrooms in the supermarket the other day. The assortment was white button mushrooms, portobello mushrooms and shitake mushrooms. I brought them home and made these mushroom pockets. These are just like puffs, but they are made with shortcrust pastry instead of puff pastry.

For the pastry:

2 cups Flour
2/3 cup Butter
5-6 tbsp Ice Cold Water
1 tsp Salt

Place the flour, salt and butter in a bowl and mix together till the mixture resembles small peas. Gradually add the water and knead gently till it forms a dough. (Do not knead as you would for chapati/poori dough.) Roll out the dough and cut into squares.

For the filling:

200g Assorted Mushrooms, chopped
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Garlic pod, finely chopped
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Chilli flakes
1/2 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Parsley
Salt and Lime juice to taste

Heat the oil in a pan. Add onion and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the thyme, parsley and chilli flakes and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes.

To Proceed:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Place a little of the mushroom mixture in the middle of the pastry squares and fold over to form a triangle. Use a little water to seal the edges and press down with a fork.

Bake for 20 minutes. Enjoy hot.

You can serve this with some ketchup if you like. We enjoyed them as they were.

May 27, 2011

Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake

I am enjoying every minute of living in Singapore. I have not yet stopped going crazy at the grocery stores and keep finding things that had, until now, existed only in the cookbooks. I did have access to Ricotta Cheese and Mascarpone even in Gurgaon, but this is different. I have bought a can of evaporated milk though I can't remember which recipe had asked for it. That's how crazy I've become. I am the proverbial kid in a candy store.

I also like the deals that come up in supermarkets. Anything that is approaching its expiration date or best before date is sold at reduced prices. I wonder what they do in India. It is something I never thought of before. I found a tub of Ricotta Cheese selling at 1/5th the original price because it was "expiring" the next day. I always wanted to make a Lemon Ricotta Cake and so I bought it. This cake was made the very next day. I have only worked with lime in India and it is a pleasure to work with lemons here.

I found a recipe for an Orange Pound Cake by Giada on the Food Network site. I modified it and made this Lemon Ricotta cake. I baked with butter after ages and so so loved the texture of this cake. I know I will make it whenever Ricotta goes on sale!

1 1/2 cups Cake Flour/Plain Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups Ricotta Cheese
1 1/2 cups Sugar
3 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 Lemons, zested
Icing sugar, for dusting
Butter and Flour/Spray for preparing the cake tin

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare a 10" round tin. (I used a springform ring mould.)

Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt.

Cream the butter with the sugar and ricotta until the mixture is fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and beat well. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter, adding a little at a time.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool a little and sieve the icing sugar over it.

Cut into slices when warm and just dig in. Memories of an era gone by will come rushing back.

May 23, 2011

Capsicum Rice

This weekend saw a lot of cooking as I had invited two friends from my college days over for dinner. One of them has two children and the older child loves baking. I had never really taught a child how to bake anything and I had a great time making chocolate brownies with the girls. For dinner, we had Bisi Bele Huli Anna, Coconut Sevai, Lemon Sevai, Cucumber Pachadi, and Carrot Peanut Kosumbari. For starters, we had some potato wedges and pizza.

One of my friends stayed over and we had more fun on Sunday too. I woke up this morning thinking of college and all the fun that we had back then. I decided to make Capsicum Rice for lunch today as that is a dish I learnt from another classmate's mother. It is a simple recipe, but it is always a great hit.

1 cup Basmati Rice, cooked
2 Green Capsicum, seeded and finely chopped
2 Onions, finely chopped
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. When the cumin crackles, add the curry leaves. Add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the capsicum and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the salt, turmeric, chilli, and cumin powders and stir well. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Mix the cooked rice into the capsicum mixture and cook for another minute.

This is about as simple a dish as you can think of and it tastes great. I have made it often for train journeys and once when I traveled to Bombay to celebrate my aunt's 70th birthday by taking her to a restaurant, she said the best gift I could give her was to make this capsicum rice for lunch. This has to be the most effortless way to win some appreciation.

May 2, 2011

Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

About a couple of years ago, a couple decided to go on an impromptu vacation for a couple of weeks and visit a couple of places. They'd known this other couple in one of the places they intended to visit and had met them before a couple of times. The other couple invited this couple to stay with them. Most everything about the stay is a blur today. The only thing I can remember about my dear namesake and her hubby visiting us was that we had loads of fun. Sometimes the best laid plans go to waste and the best times happen when you put in the least amount of planning. This was one such.

Arundati gifted me this book, Deep Dark Chocolate, during that trip in 2009. I've gone through it a few times but never really tried anything. We had an old friend come over for lunch today and I decided to make this cake. It has a whole host of ingredients and today was one of those days when I had just about everything. I modified the recipe in the book to get this beautiful dark chocolatey cake.

2 Medium Zucchini, grated
2 Carrots, grated
1 1/4 cup Flour
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
6 tbsp Oil
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp Orange Zest
1/2 cup Raisins
3/4 cup Chocolate, roughly chopped

Icing Sugar for Decoration

Grease and line a 9-inch cake tin.

Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C.

Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt over the zucchini and carrots and set aside for 30 minutes. Wash well and squeeze dry.

In a bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, mix the oil, sugar and brown sugar and beat well. Add the eggs and beat again for a couple of minutes. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Add the zucchini-carrot mixture, raisins, orange zest and chocolate bits.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool. Dust the icing sugar all over the cake. Cut into wedges and enjoy with a cup of coffee or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This is a great way to get anyone to eat their vegetables. I knew there was zucchini in the cake because I put it in. But quite like my chocolate beetroot mini muffins, nobody else could even make it out. This would have to be one of the most moist and chewy chocolate cakes I've baked.
I thought of you, Arundati, the entire time I baked this cake and would like to share a slice with you and with everyone who has been a part of this blog.
The Singing Chef turns 4 today! And I couldn't have done it without all of you. Thank you for your continued support.

April 20, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

When we first moved to Singapore, I was dumbstruck by the variety of produce that I saw in the markets. The wet markets, the supermarkets, and the gourmet stores were all filled with every kind of fruit and vegetable. Yes, I'd read about most things, especially since I started blogging. But to see them for real was something else. I was literally the kid in a candy (err... fruit and vegetable) store. I mean, this was the real deal.

A wrong diagnosis during my pregnancy in India led to thinking that I may be developing gestational diabetes. Fortunately, there was no such thing and it was the result of a badly administered glucose tolerance test. But there was a time lag between the wrong diagnosis in India and the correct diagnosis in Singapore. I wanted to be extremely careful and stayed away from most things sweet. I relished the fruits as they were, but didn't dare to use them in baking. I could (and still can) do without the excess sugar and fat.

But now I have an oven. I have the produce. And I do make the time. I have been reading a lot of my cook books to see what I can make with what I get here. I found a packet of blueberries in the supermarket and they were a lot cheaper than they usually are. So, I came home with a packet. I found a great recipe in Nigella Lawson's "How to be a Domestic Goddess", modified it a wee bit and made these beauties today.

1 1/3 cup Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
A pinch of Salt
6 tbsp Oil
1 Egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp Buttermilk
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).

Line a 12-muffin pan with muffin cases.

In a bowl, beat the egg. Add the oil, sugar and buttermilk and whisk together.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the centre of this mixture and pour in the liquid ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients into the liquid lightly until it all comes together. Fold in the blueberries and mix gently.

Scoop the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean.

These are light, not cloyingly sweet and would be perfect for breakfast. With some butter and jam!

April 12, 2011

Pav Bhaji Buns

I have resumed baking and suddenly there's no stopping me. I was going through the recipes on this blog and decided to make some stuffed buns since Amma had been mentioning them for a while. I couldn't decide which kind of buns to make.

I remembered that S once ate Vada Pav at the Bombay airport and he told me the vada had been baked inside the pav. I thought that was a great idea. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that Pav Bhaji would be as good a candidate for something like this as Vada Pav was. The idea took shape in my head and soon the buns were taking shape in my hands.

We enjoyed this mess free "pav bhaji" for dinner tonight.

For the dough:
3 cups Bread Flour
3 tbsp Oil
3 tbsp Fresh Yeast/1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast
3 tbsp Sugar
11/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Boiling water
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup Coriander Leaves, chopped

For the filling:
1 large Potato, washed and chopped finely
1 Onion, finely chopped
1/2 Capsicum, finely chopped
1/4 cup Cauliflower, finely chopped
2 tbsp Carrot, finely chopped
2 tbsp Beans, finely chopped
2 tbsp Peas
1 tbsp Tomato paste
1 tbsp Oil
1/4 tsp Garlic Paste
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Cumin-Coriander Powder
1 tsp Pav Bhaji Masala
Salt to taste

Take a huge mixing bowl and place the oil, salt and sugar in it. Add boiling water and mix until the sugar dissolves. Add the milk now to bring the mixture to room temperature. Add the yeast and mix well. Add the flour, coriander leaves, onion-garlic mixture and knead into a dough. Place the dough in a greased vessel and cover it with a damp muslin cloth. Allow to rise until double in size (roughly 45-50 minutes).
Knead the dough for a minute and then divide into 16 equal portions.

For the filling:

Pressure cook the peas along with the chopped carrots, beans, cauliflower and potato. Drain.

Heat the oil and add the onions and garlic paste. After a few minutes, add the capsicum and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato pasteand fry for a few minutes. Add the other vegetables, salt, chilli, turmeric and cumin-coriander powders. Add the pav bhaji masala and fry for 2-3 minutes. Cover and cook the mixture for 4-5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until the mixture is dry.

To Proceed:
Preheat the oven to 400F.

Take a portion of the dough and spread it on to your palm. Place some stuffing in the centre and bring the edges and seal. Place on a greased baking sheet or tray. Repeat with the other portions.

Allow to rise for 50-60 minutes and then bake for 12-15 minutes.

Cut the buns in half and spread a little butter on them. Enjoy them hot.

This turned out to be the easiest way to eat "Pav Bhaji" sans the mess. I suppose one could mix chopped onions and coriander along with the bhaji and then stuff it into the dough for a more authentic street side experience.

April 6, 2011

Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamuns. I think of them of little dumplings of goodness. While I can't stand the cloyingly sweet store bought ones, I love the ones that are made at home. I have to stop myself from eating too many of these whenever Amma makes them.

She made them today and we had them after lunch. All I needed was one bite and I was transported to kingdom happiness. I even remembered that this blog has been neglected for too long. Never before has this blog gone for 3 months without a single post. But this was not without reason.

S and I are blessed with a baby boy. Our own little dumpling of goodness entered our lives 8 weeks ago. Needless to say, life hasn't been the same since. Like Amma's gulab jamuns, I can't seem to get enough of him.

Here's a simple recipe that never fails to satisfy:

200g Khoa
A pinch of Salt
A pinch of Soda Bicarb
1/2 cup Flour

For the syrup:

1 cup Sugar
1 cup Water
1/4 tsp Rose White Essence or Cardamom Powder

Oil for frying

Heat the oil.

Knead all the ingredients into a dough. Shape the dough into balls or oblongs and fry in the hot oil.

Make a syrup with sugar and water and bring to a boil. Do not make it very thick or attempt to bring it to any thread consistency. Add either the rose essence or the powdered cardamom.

Add the fried balls into the syrup. Allow them to soak a little and enjoy them.
I am glad to share news of the new arrival with all of you. Please have some gulab jamuns to celebrate the good news.