December 25, 2012

Batata Sukke

Potatoes. A vegetable used as often in my house as many others. Many people tell me that they use a higher proportion of potatoes to other vegetables. In our household, that vegetable would be carrots (or peas). It is not that anyone here dislikes potatoes, everyone loves them.  I just don't always think of  the potato as a vegetable in its own right.

This year, for Ganesh Chaturthi, I made the entire amchi spread. We did our puja with somashe, modak, chakli, patrodo, dali saar, karatye ghasshi, phodiyo, etc. It was a huge spread for just us, but I went ahead anyway. One of the dishes that goes into this traditional feast is Batata Sukke.

1/4 kg Potatoes, cooked, peeled and cubed
1/2 tsp Urad Dal
1/2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1/2 tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Oil
1/4 cup Coconut
3-4 Red Chillies
1 tbsp Tamarind Paste
1/4 tsp Turmeric
Salt to taste

For the tempering:
1 tsp Oil
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves

Heat the oil and fry the fenugreek seeds and the coriander seeds for a minute. Grind this along with the turmeric, tamarind, coconut and red chillies to a somewhat fine paste. Add salt to taste. Coat the potatoes with this mixture.
In a large pan, heat the teaspoon of oil for the tempering. Add the mustard and the asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves. Add the potato mixture. Add a little water, if necessary. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Unlid and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve hot with rice and dali-saar or chapatis.

December 23, 2012

Black Forest Brownies

Brownies! I barely know of anyone who doesn't like the stuff. Having said that, I must admit that I have hardly ever been tempted to buy these beauties. Especially since I started baking them at home. I have tried different variations through the years, but have never put up recipes. I usually bake these to give away. So, I rarely take pictures and as a result, the recipes are not shared.

While I am yet to start my holiday baking, this seemed like a festive enough way to kickstart the process. We always have a stash of chocolate that is gifted to us throughout the year. While we all love chocolate, we don't eat it as much. Very recently, a friend gifted us a bar of Dairy Milk Black Forest. I just knew that it would also just languish in the pantry unless I rescued it. Now, I think I could do this with other chocolates too.
1/2 cup Oil
3/4 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Flour
200g Dairy Milk Black Forest Bar (Powdered in a mixie jar)
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Beat the eggs and add the sugar, vanilla essence and oil. Add the flour, chocolate, baking powder and salt, gradually to the egg mixture. Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares and enjoy them.

The black forest chocolate is made with pieces of cherry jelly and biscuits. The surprise is in biting into a chewy brownie and finding an even chewier piece of jelly. Great combination and a keeper recipe.
Happy Holidays!

October 16, 2012

Quinoa Dosa

When I was India, I read a lot about Quinoa. The super faux grain. The perfect replacement for rice. High in protein, low in calories, a good source of calcium and iron. The list was practically endless. But I had no source for it there. A few months ago, I came across a packet in the local supermarket here. I bought it and as with most things I buy, I forgot about it.
This morning, I decided to soak rice and dal for making dosas. I make my dosas with brown rice as I wanted to incorporate it into our cooking. I tried several times to use it in place of regular rice, but it just didn't go down as well in our house. I felt that we had to cut down on white rice usage in more palatable ways. I started making dosas with brown rice in India simply because I had stock that had to be used up in some way. And when my dosas turned out fine, there was no turning back.

At a Chinese vegetarian restaurant here that I have been to a couple of times, I tasted red rice. The chef at the place spoke little English, but was happy to teach me how to cook the rice (with the manager translating) and even showed me a packet of the rice while telling me where to buy it. I ended up buying a bag of Red Cargo rice. I wanted to see how my dosas would turn out with this and so looked into my pantry for the red rice. I then saw the forgotten packet of Quinoa. There was a quick change in plans.

It was an experiment and it worked. That I am posting it here means that it was good. But good doesn't even begin to describe this. Golden brown like the dosas you get a hotel and no one will complain. It may be different, but this different is good.

1 cup Quinoa
1 cup Udad
1 cup Brown Rice
1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
Salt to taste

Oil for frying

Wash the urad, quinoa and rice. Add the fenugreek seeds and soak in plenty of water overnight. (At least 4-5 hours). Wash well and grind using a little water. Add salt and water to dilute it as required. (Don't add too much water as the dosas will not turn out well.) If you like, you could allow the batter to ferment overnight. I like dosas made with freshly ground batter. And after I've eaten those, I let the batter ferment overnight.

Heat a tawa and smear a little oil on it. Simmer the flame and pour a ladleful of the batter in the centre of the tawa. Quickly spread the batter while forming concentric circles (spiral actually!). Add a little oil on the sides and centre. Usually not more than 1 small spoonful (1/4 tsp) per dosa. When crisp, carefully turn the dosa over and allow the other side to cook a little (this is not done in restaurants, but I prefer to turn my dosas and toast them on both sides).

Turn the dosa back and fold in half. Serve with chutney, sambar, or molaga podi or a combination of all these.

Humble dosa at probably its nutritious best. And as a plus, it tastes and looks fantastic. 

I think there is no going back for me.

October 12, 2012

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I'd never seen these orange sweet potatoes before we moved here. In India, I only saw the ones with the purplish pink skin and yellowish white flesh. Those would have spots that would somehow turn black once I cut them. So, when I saw the orange fleshed ones here, I fell in love with them instantly. They looked just like the stuff I'd seen in my cookbooks, they weren't as sweet as the ones back home, and they didn't get those black spots. I use them quite often in my cooking.
I followed the same technique as for baked potato wedges, but I cut the sweet potatoes into fries. (One must at least feel that they are eating fries!) These fries also double up as toddler finger food. Very good for a child who wants to hold his or her own food and act all grown up.

I followed the same method for the adult and the baby versions, varying only the spices.
2 Sweet Potatoes, parboiled, peeled and cut into fries
2 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp Butter
1 tsp Basil
1 tsp Parsley
1 tsp Chilli Flakes
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the toddler version, I used paprika, garlic powder and salt.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan. Add the parsley, basil and chilli flakes (or paprika) and fry for a minute. Add the garlic powder and fry another minute. Add the sweet potato, salt and pepper (optional for toddlers). Toss the wedges in the spice mixture. Transfer to a baking sheet. Place it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Enjoy these hot. I tried these again recently with purple fleshed sweet potatoes and we all loved them. Nature has put so much into these sweet potatoes that this cannot even be termed an indulgence. Moderation, of course, is key.

October 7, 2012

Ragi Appey - Almost Instant Goodness

Last month, we had been to the US to attend my graduation ceremony. Before the ceremony, we spent a few days with S's sister. She told me about making dosas without grinding. She merely added water and salt to a mixture of rice and udad flours and allowed it to ferment. I had tried something similar before, but had added baking soda to the mixture. I liked the idea of natural fermentation. I wanted to try it after we got back.

In one of my recent posts, I talked about how our blogs have crossed the boundaries of the blogosphere and how we are all connected via social media. This post and the dish it talks about have come about thanks to a food related discussion on Facebook.
Aparna started a discussion asking people about mannchattis. Suddenly, the discussion spilt over to kalchattis and kuzhipaniyaram pans. Then as a continuation of that, there was more talk of neiyappams and their pans. I was drooling. I was hungry. And I had to do something about it.
I decided to make grind free dosa batter. I tweaked the batter by adding ragi flour to the it. The weather happened to be rainy and not very hot. So natural fermentation may need a bit of a helping hand, I thought. And my idea worked. I was rewarded with a plate of hot appeys.
1 cup Udad Flour
1 cup Rice Flour
1 cup Ragi Flour
1 tsp Instant Yeast
Mix the flours and the salt and add enough water to make a dosa like thick batter. Add the yeast and mix well. Allow to ferment for an hour or so.
As a variation to this plain batter, I also made the masala variation by adding to the batter:
1 Tomato, finely chopped
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Green Chilli, finely chopped
1/2" piece Ginger, finely chopped
1/4 cup Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
Heat the appey kayli and smear a drop of oil onto each mould. Simmer the flame and pour a spoonful of the batter into each mould. Turn each ball after a few minutes using a pick. Enjoy them fresh off the pan.
A, who did not care for dosas made from the same batter, loved these. He called them "ball". They're healthy enough for a toddler, are something he can eat  by himself (when sufficiently cooled) and have everything that makes them a meal. What's not to love?

October 6, 2012

Zucchini Hummus Parathas

Life stages. Usually, unless you're at a certain stage yourself, or have been past that stage, it is difficult to understand what it is all about. It is nearly impossible to empathize. At least for me, it has been. For the longest time, I couldn't understand why parents fussed over what their children could eat. I saw one set of parents agonizing over their children's lunch and dinner and I saw another set that relied almost totally on prepackaged food.
Now that I have one of my own to worry about, I realize that I am not the agonizing type. I don't fuss over A's food. He usually eats what we eat. Yes, at times, he may go hungry because he is throwing a tantrum and refuses to eat. Since he is just a year and half, I do offer him one other comfort food option at most meals. If he refuses that as well, I let him be. I know that in these food battles, I am never going to win. My aunt said to me, "My children's paediatrician said that no child with access to food will ever starve." So, when A is hungry, he will eat. My obligation is, then, to ensure that the right kind of food is accessible. And I know that this is me. Every parent is different as is every child.  
A has been very fiercely independent for a long time. I see a lot of me in him. I am pretty much the "I-can-manage-all-by-myself-thank-you-very-much" kind of person. When it comes to food, he prefers being able to feed himself. But he is also picky at the moment about textures. He will not touch wet or sticky things. (Or if he does, he will quickly wipe his hands on my clothes!) He is not very comfortable with a spoon and more food falls on his stomach than in. At times, we give him a roasted papad (protein) to eat by himself while he is being fed his meal of rice, dal and vegetable. At times, I make baby sized cutlets for him. He likes to eat oven baked fries (potato, sweet potato, carrot) and I give him a plate as a snack or before his main meal.
And parathas work very well. I make 'all in one' parathas for him which I cut into bits. He then eats them all by himself. I make the dough, roll out the parathas and freeze them with baking paper in between them. On days when I am feeling particularly lazy, I just pull out two of these, toast them on a tava with a little ghee/oil and cut them up. And then I feel good that he got his carbohydrate, protein, fat and vegetable fix from that one meal.
1/2 cup Chickpeas (soaked and cooked)
1 cup Atta (Whole Wheat Flour)
1/2 cup Green and Yellow Zucchini (diced)
1 tbsp Tahini
1 tbsp Sesame Oil/Gingelly Oil
1 tsp Paprika
1/s tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Cumin Powder
1 clove Garlic
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Sugar
Grind the chickpeas with the garlic, tahini and zucchini. Place this mixture in a bowl. Add the other ingredients. Mix well. Keep adding a little water as necessary and knead into a soft, pliable dough. Cover and allow to rest for a few minutes.
Divide the dough into small balls and roll them out with the help of a little flour. Toast on a hot tava until brown spots appear and the paratha is cooked.
Serve as they are or with some yogurt on the side.
Of late, many friends have been requesting child friendly food on the blog. So, I hope you like this.
If you are making these for adults, increase the amount of spices or serve with a side dish. I have started adding sesame paste to many of our meals as sesame is a good natural source of zinc. You could substitute the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, paprika and oil with 2/3 cup of ready made hummus.

September 22, 2012

Jam Tartlets

I woke up last morning thinking, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!"
I was running very late for a tea party. One whose deadline had been extended partly at my request. Could I blame it on jetlag? Could I blame it on two festivals that are very important to me that I absolutely had to prepare for? Could I simply say I forgot? No.

I knew I had to do something about it. I just didn't know what.

'I'm sure I'll take you with pleasure!' the Queen said.
'Twopence a week, and jam every other day.'
Alice couldn't help laughing, as she said,
'I don't want you to hire ME - and I don't care for jam.'
'It's very good jam,' said the Queen.
'Well, I don't want any TO-DAY, at any rate.'
'You couldn't have it if you DID want it,' the Queen said.
'The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday - but never jam to-day.'
'It MUST come sometimes to "jam to-day,"' Alice objected.
'No, it can't,' said the Queen.
'It's jam every OTHER day: to-day isn't any OTHER day, you know.'
'I don't understand you,' said Alice. 'It's dreadfully confusing!

Have I confused you enough? There was a time when I thought about mad people in third person. Now I know enough to talk about them in first person.

“Do you think I've gone round the bend?"
"I'm afraid so. You're mad, bonkers, completely off your head. 

But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”


Alice, oops Anita, invited us to a Mad Tea Party. I had attended a couple of these in the past. Just around the time when I realized that, I, like everyone else, was a bit mad. But what would I do at a tea party? I, the one that doesn't even drink tea that much.
“Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
"I've had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended tone, "so I can't take more."
"You mean you can't take less," said the Hatter: "it's very easy to take more than nothing."
"Nobody asked your opinion," said Alice.”
The writing was everywhere. I simply had to attend this tea party and since today is not just any other day, I decided to make jam tartlets.
For the pastry:

1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup Wheat Flour
1/3 cup Butter
2-3 tbsp Ice Cold Water
1/2 tsp Salt

Place the flours, 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 stamp out circles.

For the filling:
3 tbsp Jam

To proceed:

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

Prepare a mini muffin pan by greasing it a little. I used a non stick mini mufifn pan.

Place the pastry circles in the muffin moulds. Spoon 1/2 tsp of jam into each mould. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow the tartlets to cool a bit.

Sit down with a cup of tea or coffee, serve yourself some tarts and have yourself a party. Remember:
“Yes, that's it! Said the Hatter with a sigh, it's always tea time.”

August 28, 2012

Peanut Sesame Powder

When I was relatively new to the world of blogging, I didn't know too many people. I thought that participation in events was only by invitation. I felt like an outsider. I read about people receiving gifts from other bloggers and wondered how much longer it might be before I would be considered part of the "inner circle".

I then realized that there was no such thing. Most bloggers considered all other bloggers as being in the inner circle. Friendships were formed quickly and before I knew it, I received a lovely package in the email. A letter, some methkut, some murabba, some tea bags, an agarbatti holder and this little bottle of "Sesamum Chutney". The sender was Nandita!
S and I were hooked on to this Sesamum Chutney and we savoured even the last speck from the bottle. We ate it with everything. Sprinkled it on buttered toast, ate it with chapattis, had it with dosais and even mixed it with hot rice.
I tried to recreate the chutney at home nearly 5 years after I had received the parcel. It turned out quite similar to the original and I will be making this so often.
6 Garlic Pods
1 cup Peanuts, roasted and skin removed
1/2 cup Sesame Seeds, roasted
2 tbsp Cumin, roasted
2 tbsp Red Chilli Powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp Oil
Grind the ingredients (except the oil) together. Add the oil a few drops at a time during the grinding. The oil keeps the entire mixture from becoming lumpy.
This is a very versatile chutney that can be used in many ways. You could also mix some in a bowl of yogurt for a quick raita. I am certain it will go very well even as a spice mix for vegetables. I must try that next.

August 24, 2012

Soraikkai Thuvayal

Meals. At times, they're something I put together in a jiffy. At others, they are painstakingly thought through. Ever since A started eating regular meals, I have started putting more thought into what I put on the table. All the same, I don't want A to have conventional ideas of what a meal must be and must not be. So, it doesn't have to be rice or roti. A meal could be dosai, pasta, soup and a sandwich, rice-dal-sabzi, parathas... as long as it has carbohydrates, proteins, fats and a good portion of vegetables, it is a meal.
One night, I decided to make wheat doddaks for dinner. A few years ago, I added moong flour to the batter and have not stopped since. Thus, the wheat and green gram doddak was born. My carb and protein elements had been taken care of. In order to convert it into a full meal, I grated some bottle gourd into the batter and made little doddaks for A. Now, that was a full meal for him. It had all that I wanted in his meal and it was something he wanted too (to be able to eat by himself).

But why all this talk about doddaks in a post about a thuvayal? Because putting in grated bottle gourd into the batter may make it a meal for my little one, but we adults need something to go with the doddaks. And since I have been known to make a thuvayal out of just anything, I decided to make the vegetable element of our meal into a thuvayal.

This recipe deviates from my usual thuvayal but is a keeper recipe.

1 cup Bottle Gourd, peeled and diced
2 tbsp Coconut, scraped
4 Red Chillies
1 tsp Mustard

1 tsp Cumin
3 tsp Urad Dal (Black Gram Dal)

1 tsp Chana Dal
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
3 tsp Oil
1 tbsp Tamarind Paste
Salt to taste

Heat the oil and fry the red chillies, mustard seeds, sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, chana dal and black gram dal for a couple of minutes. Add the bottle gourd and fry for 2 minutes. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Grind the mixture along with the coconut, tamarind paste and salt.

Serve with the doddaks. Serve on buttered toast. Serve with rice. Serve with chapatis. In short, serve it just about any way you like.

August 15, 2012

Cherry Berry Yogurt Tart

A few years ago, our blogs were our blogs. Fellow bloggers and other readers would come to our blogs, read our posts and comment on them. I remember very clearly the time when I lived for those comments. Because they were my only connection to my readers. (Julie & Julia, anyone?) I still wait eagerly for comments to posts that I put up. Today they are few and far between. But many lines are blurring and I now have multiple connections with my fellow bloggers and readers. Facebook is one of those connections.

Last year, a few random conversations led to the formation of a Baking Club and all of us made a Mango Cake. I got a little busy in the months that followed and couldn't keep up. Over the next few months, my blog suffered from lack of attention. In the last few months, it has picked up speed again.

A more recent chat on Facebook led to the revival of this club. The one I fondly called The Sisterhood of Travelling Cake Tins is now christened that. And since today is the 100th birthday of Julia Child, the theme for this episode is her Baked Yogurt Tart. Keep a lookout in the blogosphere today. You are bound to see multiple yogurt tarts from my dear friends and fellow bloggers. And given that Cook For Julia is being hosted by PBS, you will see many other Julia Child recipes too.

This recipe is adapted from a Julia Child recipe found here. I used readymade frozen puff pastry for the base. You can find my tried and trusted recipe for shortcrust pastry here. I omitted the nuts from the recipe.

1 recipe Shortcrust Pastry dough/Puff Pastry

For the filling:

2 cups Yogurt
3/4 cup Sugar
3 Eggs
3/4 cup Flour
2 tbsp pure Vanilla Extract

1/2 cup Cherries, pitted and halved
1 cup Mixed Berries (I used raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)

Icing sugar, for dusting

Heat the oven to 400F/200C.

Roll the pastry doughinto a 12 inch circle of 1/4 inch thickness and fit it into a 9" round springform pan. Cover the top with baking paper and blind bake for 20 minutes with pie weights, rice or beans.

Remove the weight and the baking paper and allow the tart shell to cool. Set the oven to 325F/160C.

 In the meanwhile, beat the eggs and the sugar together. Add the yogurt and the vanilla extract and mix well. Add the flour a little by little and fold it into the mixture. Pour the mixture into the cooled tart shell. Do not fill to the brim, only about 2/3. Add the fruit. (The tart will look like this at this stage.) Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Cut into wedges and serve.

Packed with fruit and the goodness of yogurt, this is one keeper recipe.

Happy 100th birthday Julia! Happy Independence Day! And a toast to dear S and I. We lost our independence this day six years ago when we got engaged formally.

Here are the links to the other posts from the sisterhood:

Aparna: Baked Yogurt Tart (Tarte Au Yaourt) With Fresh Orange & Pistachios, In An Oatmeal Crust
Nandita:Baked Yogurt Berry Tart
Arundati:Baked Yogurt Tart with Blueberries, Almonds and Orange Zest in an Oatmeal Pie Crust</
Monika:Baked Yogurt Tart with Fresh Figs and Blueberries

August 13, 2012

Kesar Pista Kulfi

A couple of weekends ago, we visited a friend for a potluck dinner. I had made a lot of Bisi Bele Huli Anna and my friend decided to make some curd rice. She had also made some very nice sabudana tikkis as a starter. And just when we thought we could eat no more, she brought out some kulfi.

The kulfi tasted so good that I had to try it out at home. The recipe is so simple, it is almost as if there is nothing to it. Also, my traditional way of making kulfi involves boiling the milk with condensed milk. This method involves no cooking. I blended all the ingredients in a blender, but I think I should use a hand whisk the next time. The blending left some froth on the top of my kulfis.

1 can Evaporated Milk
1 can (400g) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tin (170g) Cream

For the topping, grind together:

1 tbsp Pistachios
1 tbsp Almonds
a pinch Saffron
1/4 tsp Cardamom

Mix the evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream. Whisk together until well blended. Add the topping and mix again. Fill the kulfi moulds with this mixture and freeze until set. When set, dip the moulds in warm water, unscrew and hold over a plate. The kulfi slides out effortlessly.

This is a keeper recipe for me even if everything came out of a can!

August 11, 2012

Carrot Beetroot Chocolate Mini Muffins

Baking for little children is fun. I find instant approval or disapproval when a child tastes what I have made. No pretense, no niceties. I have rediscovered baking with butter in the past year and I find that the texture of the cakes is really nice. I have nothing against baking cakes with oil, just that once in a while, butter is better. And when I bake for children, I feel I must use butter.

I was on my way to meet a dear friend and remembered that I had promised her daughter chocolate muffins. So I made these very quickly. But then I had just grated some carrots to make parathas for A, so I decided to sneak some in to these muffins as well. Then I thought beets would also make a good addition.

The best part about this entire recipe is that one cannot even taste the carrot or beetroot in the final product. They just seem to make the muffins super moist. I know this one is a keeper.

3/4 cup Flour
1 1/2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 cup Sugar
a Pinch Salt
1/4 cup Butter
1 Eggs
1/4 cup Grated  Carrot
1/4 cup Grated Beetroot
1/2 tsp Vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350F/180 C. Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking powder along with the salt.

Cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and beat again. Add the sugar and vanilla and
beat well together. Fold the flour cocoa mixture into this.

Prepare the mini muffin pans by lining them with paper muffin cases or spraying them with baking spray.

Stir the grated carrot and beetroot into the batter and pour into the prepared muffin cases. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Little A polished off two of these almost as soon as they were out of the oven. The batter makes 16 mini muffins. I packed some in a box and took them to meet some old friends and their children. Gone in sixty seconds may be a better title for this recipe!

August 9, 2012

Kaju Barfi

Indian sweets is one area I have steered clear of. You could easily blame it on two things. One is the hard work involved and the other is definitely a scar from the olden days. I remember trying to make one sweet which just didn't set. I added sugar, more sugar and then some. At the end of the experiment, all one could taste was sugar and it still had to be eaten using a spoon. My mother was very encouraging and very forgiving. Far more forgiving than I have ever been on myself.

Last year, at Deepavali, I made my version of the 7-cup cake. The recipe will come up soon. It took me another 9 months to try my next Indian sweet. I usually don't stock the amount of sugar and ghee that go into Indian sweets. After years of making cookies and sweet buns for Janmashtami, this year I decided I must introduce little A to mithai as well. I found this recipe in the Milkmaid Gold Collection and modified it a little.

1 1/4 cups Cashews, powdered
150g Khoa, grated
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup Flour
1/2 tin Milkmaid
1 tbsp Ghee
1/4 tsp Cardamom powder
a few Saffron strands

Grind all the ingredients except the cardamom and saffron to a fine paste. Grease a heavy bottomed pan with 3/4 tbsp ghee and add the paste. Add the cardamom and the saffron. Heat the mixture over an even medium flame until the mixture comes together as a ball.

Grease a plate with sides (I used two 8" cake tins as I don't have thalis in my house). Transfer the mixture and spread evenly. Cut into diamond shapes and store in an airtight container.

Since this was my very first attempt, I didn't add any ghee to my pan at the start, which explains the little burnt bits. The original recipe didn't ask for any extra ghee. My barfis needed some extra love.

Happy Janmashtami all of you!

August 8, 2012

Semolina and Vegetable Cutlets

I always quite liked the idea of making food appealing for children. And in doing so, I hope to also let A appreciate a wide variety. To that end, I am quite particular about not making him a paruppu saadam tayir saadam child. (No offense meant to anyone. I just don't believe that food has to be rice and roti.) I would like him to learn that these dishes are food as are many others. By and large, he eats what we eat and I don't have to cook separately for him. From the age of 1, A has wanted to feed himself. I try to give him things that he can hold in his hands and eat. But since he does not want to be fed, I have to ensure that these foods are not mere snacks.

Cutlets are one such item. I remember eating a semolina and vegetable cutlet many years ago at Adyar Bakery's Shakes & Creams. I thought that it would make a good meal for A.

1/4 cup Semolina
2 tbsp Carrots, finely chopped
2 tbsp Beans, finely chopped
2 tbsp Butter Beans, cooked and finely chopped
2 tbsp Onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp Oil
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Paprika
a pinch Garam Masala
Salt to taste
¼ cup Bread Crumbs
2 tbsp Flour
Oil for frying (deep or shallow)

Steam the carrot and beans until tender. You could place them in a microwave safe bowl and add a little water and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.

Heat the oil. Fry the onions and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the semolina and roast for 2-3 minutes. Add the carrot and beans along with the butter beans. Add the paprika, salt and turmeric. Add 1/2 cup of water and cover and cook on a slow flame for 3-4 minutes. Add the garam masala and stir well. Turn off the flame and allow the mixture to cool.

Meanwhile, mix the flour with a little water to make a batter. Place the bread crumbs on a plate. Heat the oil for frying.

Make small balls of the mixture and flatten them. Coat them with the flour batter and then roll them in the bread crumbs until they are evenly covered.

I tried making these by deep frying as well as shallow frying and both methods work very well. To deep fry, slide each cutlet into the hot oil and fry on each side until brown. To shallow fry, place the cutlets on a greased pan and cook on both sides, adding a few drops of oil as necessary.

Drain on absorbent paper. Serve with tomato ketchup.

Now that I have made these, I think even left over vegetable upma would make very good cutlets.

August 6, 2012

Mixed Vegetable and Butter Bean Buns

The scars left by my "Fruit Bun" baking episode in 1986 have long disappeared. I have not forgotten the episode, but I have simply moved on. After all, in 5 years, Mr. Yeast and I have become fast friends. I now have access to good quality yeast that doesn't need freezing and thawing. Since baking the coriander cream cheese pinwheels, I made another batch of khara buns and cinnamon rolls. The recipe for the cinnamon rolls will come soon.

Little A loved the cinnamon rolls and that is when I realized that I could make a wide variety of buns, especially for him. He is at a stage where he wants to feed himself. So, I decided to make buns for him that could be considered a full meal. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins and vegetables. These buns were the result of my experiment. You could substitute half of the flour with whole wheat flour
as well.

For the dough:

1 1/2 cups Bread Flour/All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tbsp Oil
1 1/2 tbsp Yeast
1 1/2 tbsp Sugar
3/4 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Boiling water
1/4 cup Milk
2 tbsp Spinach, chopped
2 tbsp Carrot, grated
2 tbsp Beetroot, grated
10 Butterbeans, cooked, peeled and chopped finely
2 tsp Coriander Leaves, chopped
1 Green Chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
1" piece of ginger
2 tsp Sesame Seeds
Place the spinach, carrot and beetroot in a microwave safe bowl and sprinkle a little water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

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 mixed vegetables, butter beans, coriander, chilli and ginger. Add the flour 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).
Divide the dough into 16 balls. Place in a buttered baking tin. (I used two 8" cake tins and placed 8 balls of dough in each.) Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and allow to rise for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

Bake the buns for 12-15 minutes. Brush with a little butter or oil if you like when the buns come out from the oven.

I did really make these for A. But given that they were so tempting, we quickly ate two each ourselves. Soft and full of flavour. These buns, while not spicy like Khara Buns, have a similar flavour. The butter beans and the vegetables up nutrition content. And that little A ate two of these, quite simply, made my day.

August 3, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle Squares

Lofty plans! I think I have achieved mastery in this category. I have these ideas, seemingly brilliant at first. Then I do some research to see if others have had similar ideas and whether these ideas ever became reality. People talk about their stories. What went right, what went wrong. And then someone posts this oh so simple solution to the problem. But they also add a rider, "I am not sure if this will work in reality". And then I decide that I must be the one to check. Simply because the thread stopped right there.

The plan was to make a layer cake. Pound cake, cheesecake and jelly on top. It turned out to be a mosaic cake as I simply couldn't wait for the jelly to set before adding the cheesecake mixture, could I? The next time I attempt something like this, I will bake the cake, then set the cheesecake over it and then pour the jelly topping on top. But here's how I made it this time.

The cake recipe makes two 8" cakes. I used just one for this recipe.


For the pound cake:

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 1/4 cups Sugar
3 Eggs
1 teaspoon Strawberry Essence
6 Strawberries, pureed
A few drops Red Colour (optional)
Butter and Flour/Spray for preparing the cake tin

For the Cheesecake:

1/2 tin Condensed Milk (400g tin)
250g Cream Cheese
1/2 tbsp Gelatin
2 tbsp boiling hot Water
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
6 Strawberries, pureed

For the Jelly Topping:
1 Packet Strawberry Jelly, prepared as per instructions on the pack

To make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare two 8" round tins.

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 strawberry essence and strawberry puree 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.
To proceed:
Line a Springform 8" pan base with cling film and then fit the sides portion. Pour the jelly liquid over the base and allow it to set in the refrigerator.

For the cheesecake:
Beat the cream cheese and the condensed milk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the lime juice and the strawberry puree and beat well again.
Dissolve the gelatin in the hot water. Add this to the mixture and pour it over the the jelly. (At this point, my jelly hadn't entirely set and so began to break. I quickly mixed the two layers to get the mosaic effect.)
Place the cooled cake over the the cheesecake jelly mixture and allow the cheesecake and jelly to set completely.
When set, place a plate on top of the cake, turn it over and remove the springform tin. Slowly remove the base of the tin and peel off the cling film. Cut into squares.

That is what I call a bite sized piece of happiness. And as I have done every year in the years before today, I come back here to share this little piece of happiness with all of you. After all, Sachin's birthday comes just once every year.

Happy Birthday Sachin! Happiness Always.