May 2, 2015

Pal Poli to celebrate 8 years

8 years ago, today, I sat at the computer and toyed with the idea of starting another blog. I loved cooking and I enjoyed writing. I wasn't quite sure of my reasons. But I was addicted to reading food blogs at the time. And I felt that, given how varied my cooking was, and how much friends enjoyed my food, people would enjoy the blog too. And they did. 

Over the years, I've gotten busier with other things. And this blog, like the other, got neglected. I've been cooking a lot. And I've been cooking newer things too. And most of the time I do remember to take pictures. But I find that it is the sitting myself down in front of a computer and typing out these stories that I am unable to do.

Can I find a list of excuses? My laptop conked out. The computer is in my son's room and I can't go in there when I'm done for the day because he's sleeping there. My photographs aren't good enough. And I can find many more such. But I suppose where there's a will, there should be a way. Just that in my case, there seems to be a won't. This blog has seen fewer posts in the last two years than it did on that one day in July 2007. How is that for statistics?

In the last one year, I've cooked and baked with my son, who seems to enjoy cooking more than eating. I wanted to see if there was truth in the fact that when children help make something, they are more eager to try it. I think there is some truth to this. But the day I decide that it should probably work is most likely the day that it doesn't. 

However, in all this time that I haven't blogged, I have actually used this blog for its original intended purpose: my personal recipe book. I've gone back countless number of times to check if I have the ingredients right, if I'm missing a step. And often, reading the recipes and the stories behind them makes me nostalgic. I was feeling especially nostalgic one day and thought about the Pal Poli that Amma used to make. For a week, I made it in my head, over and over. It was so simple. And I could almost taste it. Finally, about 3 weeks after I'd made it 12 times a day in my head and I was just dying to taste it, I actually made it.

For the Poli:

1 cup Maida
2 tbsp Semolina
1 tsp Ghee
A pinch of Salt
Oil for frying

Mix the ingredients except the oil into a hard dough using as little water as necessary. Divide the dough into 24 pieces. Roll them out using a little bit of oil into 4-6 inch discs. Keep these covered with a cloth until all the pieces have been rolled out.

Heat the oil and drop the rolled out polis into the oil. Deep fry them like pooris.

For the Masala Milk:

1 Litre (4 cups) Milk
1 400g tin Sweetened Condensed Milk (I used Milkmaid)
A pinch Saffron
1/4 tsp Cardamom, powdered
1 tbsp Milk Masala Powder (I used Everest)

Bring the milk to a slow boil and add the condensed milk, stirring all the while to make sure the condensed milk doesn't stick to the bottom of the vessel. Add the saffron, cardamom and the Milk Masala powder.

Arrange the polis in a dish and pour the masala milk over them. Let the polis soak in the milk.

Enjoy this dish warm or chilled. I was surprised at how easy this dish actually was and it got me thinking about the mental fatigue I seem to associate with so many of my childhood favourites.

I make no promises of what the 9th year holds for The Singing Chef. I shall endeavour to come here as often as I can and blog as much as I can. But for the time being, to those of you who have always been there for me, I want to share a little piece of sweetness, a little piece of my childhood, and say thank you for helping The Singing Chef become what it has. Thank you for being an integral part of my life. 

January 1, 2015

Cointreau Pound Cake

Another year gone by. Another broken promise. I attempted to post 40 recipes in 2014. I ended up posting 9. It was a lot more than I'd managed the year before, but nowhere close to what I'd have liked. It wasn't for want of time. The blog was more a victim of circumstances. When I had the time, my computer didn't work. By the time I replaced my computer, I'd also changed jobs. A new job means new teams, new flight schedules and everything else that comes with the territory. And then suddenly, it was the end of the year.

I don't want to sum up 2014 or what it meant to me. As with every year, it had its ups and downs. However, 2014 gave me more than just a fair share of bad news. But I don't wish to dwell on that. I wish to acknowledge the not so good, but focus on the good. I was able to spend time with family and friends. I was able to embrace many good things that this city has to offer. And that is my plan for 2015 as well. To spend my time with family, friends and work. To do as many things as possible that make me happier and healthier.

Baking always makes me happy. Blogging makes me happy too. And blogging about baking should be bang on target. So here's a simple recipe to usher in 2015.

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 Orange Essence
2-3 tbsp Cointreau
Butter and Flour for preparing the cake tin  

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare a 10" round tin. (I used a spring form 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 orange essence and Cointreau 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 cut into pieces.

Enjoy and have a Happy New Year!