Saturday, December 25, 2010

Baked on Christmas

Christmas came and went on the calendar, but this quote sums up its true essence -

 "Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing and giving are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself."
-Norman Wesley Brooks

 I baked a very simple cake-mix vanilla sponge cake at teatime. I have never baked with a cake-mix before (yeah!) and I really liked the way the cake turned out. I simply followed the instructions on the packet and 45 minutes later pulled out a very light, spongy and perfectly risen cake from the oven. I'm sure it would've tasted just great as it was with tea. (the words 'selling like hot cakes' kept ringing in my head and I could imagine why!) But when I turned the cake tin over my wire rack, gently tapped the base and lifted the tin away, my heart did a little dance :) The cake was perfect! It easily slid off the tin, it had just the right amount of browning and was well baked. I had to make a topping of some kind, it was too hard to resist. I decided to keep it simple, so I skipped the rich creamy frosting. Instead, I just melted some white chocolate buttons (with a teeny bit of milk) in a saucepan over hot water and spread a thin layer of it over the cake. Then to the same sauce I added some drinking chocolate in order to get a darker shade of brown and drizzled it over the white. That's it! Delicious vanilla sponge cake with a simple white chocolate sauce.

I think I have learnt that the joy of cooking is doubled when the people you cook for enjoy eating. I find happiness in these simple pleasures of life :) I often say this, and couldn't mean it more - 'Good friends, good food, good times!'

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Snack in Need is a Snack Indeed!

Have you ever been bitten by the 'I-wanna-eat-something' bug? Well, it seems to like me, a lot! It specially loves to visit when I'm home alone and bored. That's when a whole lot of emotions and thoughts are running rampant in my head, like so - "I want a snack; but I don't want anything oily; Oh but I do!; No! Nothing oily; But something to munch on; But then I'm too lazy to make anything; Oh what can I eat; Darn! The munchies jar is empty; Now what?!"

One on such crazy afternoon, this great idea sprang to mind and I made besan pancakes (or so I'd like to call them). Quick, easy, not oily. Perfect for those notorious needy-clingy hunger pangs. The best part about this recipe is all the ingredients are at hand and it's made in a jiffy. I love such recipes because then I can prance about in my cozy little kitchen, pretending I'm on a cooking show and go about making my snack with the enthusiasm I started with. The joy of reaching out to just the right jars, measuring out everything, chopping, and preparing is something else! Otherwise my enthusiasm is generally dampened if it means I have to make a quick trip to the supermarket to get something I don't have. Since this recipe calls for just some basic stuff, it's a
favourite. See what I mean -
  • besan (chickpea flour) 1.5 cups
  • finely chopped tomato 1/4 cup
  • finely chopped onion 1/2 cup
  • 1 tbspn finely chopped coriander/cilantro
  • 1 tspn whole jeera (cumin)
  • 1 tspn paprika/chilli powder
  • 1/4 tspn turmeric powder optional
  • a pinch of hing (asafotieda) optional
  • a pinch of carom seeds (ajwain) optional - I generally add this to anything made of besan
  • salt to taste
Mix everything to make a (pouring) batter. Pour a big spoonful onto a heated skillet and spread evenly. Spray some oil and cook on both sides until done. Serve hot with some tangy pickle or maybe some tomato sauce.

Hate not those sudden cravings, instead make these besan pancakes and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Who says you can't have street food at home?

Indian Street Food, if we were playing the word association game, by now there would be a really long list of associated words like chaat, pav bhaji, masala dosa, grilled sandwich, samosas, jalebis, vada pav, etc. etc. etc!! Oh those glorious streets of Bengalooru! The enticing aroma of spices, the hissing sound as a splash of water hits the hot grill, the crowd, the bustle, the lip smacking food, the experience. The bajjis never tasted as good anywhere except on the streets, the secret - oil that's used and reused (God knows how many times!). The samosa chaat is finger lickin' good, the secret - rustic bare fingers of the man who smashes the samosa in a quick blow. And the dosa, oh the dosa is divine, crisp yet spongy, the secret - a very hot griddle frequently splashed with a generous dose of oil and deftly spread with a stiff broom! Well, pardon my almost oxymoronic description. But I think that's entirely the essence of Indian Street Food, pure deliciousness amidst small 'eyebrow raisers' that can be easily ignored. I mean, come to think of it, we've been enjoying eating out for ages now and we've survived (!), so I guess we've kind of settled on the fact that reused oil, tap water and not the cleanest of kitchens can all be dismissed as 'not that big a deal'. But then again, maybe I can't generalise the conclusion. Maybe I speak only on behalf of my Indian counterparts who, by now, seemed to have developed a 'withstand-all' kind of a gene. Delhi Belly was coined for a reason, I'm sure! Nevertheless, if not in Bengalooru, then I'm sure some place else, most of us would know the true sense of an evening enjoyed gorging on street food.
Having said that, the effects of street food can be created at home as well. The same feeling of heightened senses as the spice hits just the right spots, the same medley of flavours and with some Bollywood numbers blasting from the iPod dock, voila! it's the street food experience right at home, and with clean water and washed hands :)

Bhelpuri - a (very) popular Indian street food item, tangy, sweet, crunchy and oh-so-yummy!

Ingredients - (will serve 2, 1 if you have a very strong craving)
(I haven't mentioned the quantity of some ingredients as it's totally up to your taste and liking. More if you love it, less if you don't so much)
  • puffed rice 2 cups
  • finely chopped onion
  • finely chopped cucumber
  • grated carrot
  • roughly diced boiled potato
  • finely chopped tomato
  • finely chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
  • a handful of roasted peanuts
  • a splash of lime juice
  • ready made papdi (available in Indian grocery stores), optional
  • salt, chaat masala powder (available in Indian grocery stores) and tamarind chutney (available in Indian grocery stores to taste
  • sev (available in Indian grocery stores) to garnish, optional
Method -
  • Simply combine everything, except puffed rice and sev, in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add puffed rice just before you're ready to serve and toss it well.
  • Garnish generously with sev and some extra chopped coriander and serve immediately.
Apparently, bhelpuri is considered a low fat snack, minus the papdi and sev. That's how I made it yesterday.

So hope you try this street food classic at your place and maybe it will inspire you to try it on the streets of India, if you haven't already!

Until then, cook, serve, love!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mango Cupcakes

Hello! A quick little post to share a great recipe I found here.

I simply doubled the recipe as I wanted about a dozen of these :)

I've been spending some good time in my cozy little kitchen. I should take more pictures and post more often here. Sigh!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Teatime Nibbles

A strong cup of Indian masala chai (or south Indian filter kaapi) is somewhat incomplete without some snacks or nibbles on the side. Typically, it would be biscuits (Marie or Parle G) dunked and unceremoniously popped into the mouth in a hurry, lest the soggy bikkie disintegrates. I've had one too many dunking accidents and the resulting gooey sediment at the bottom of my teacup is not one of the most appealing things. So, bicuits with tea are more like a thing of the past for me. I digress. I was talking about the popular chai accompaniments. Samosas, pakodas or bajjis*, mixture* (what an innovative name, pah!), etc. are all popular teatime snacks. Basically, something deep fried and crisp (and oozing with fat that goes straight to the hips) is very gratifying at teatime.
On the list is a simple fried snack that my family calls 'thukudi'. I don't really know why it is called that! I think it is quite similar to what my north Indian friends call namakpare. Oh well, what's in a name? It's great for teatime, that's what matters, right? It's kind of like crisp, flaky puff pastry. It's a very simple recipe, yields a substantial quantity and keeps for a couple of weeks. Now that's my kind of recipe, a handy jar of crisp thukudi to perk up teatimes.
Here's the recipe -

1.5 cups wheat flour (or wholemeal, whatever you have at hand)
1/4 cup all purpose flour (you could skip this totally if you wish)
2 tbspns besan (chickpea flour)
salt and red chilli powder (or paprika) to taste
oil for deep frying
1 tbspn hot oil

Method -

  • Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  • Heat 1tbspn oil in a small skillet ( not to smoking point, just a little bit) and pour into the flour mixture.
  • Rub in the oil using your fingers until the mixture has the texture of breadcrumbs.
  • Using very little water gradually, work the mixture into a stiff dough.
  • Leave to rest for about 15mins.
  • Before you begin with the rested dough, pour oil in a wok or pot and place on medium heat.
  • Knead the dough on a work surface that's slightly dusted with flour and divide the dough into lemon sized balls.
  • Roll each ball of dough into a circle, slightly on the thinner side. But don't worry too much about it, 'cos if you try and roll it out too thin, it might get all clingy and stick to your work surface.The intention is to get crips nibbles and not soft  & soggy  (like mini pooris). So the thinner, the better.
  • Using a pizza cutter (or a knife) cut the rolled out dough into approx half inch strips. Then rotate about 40deg and cut into strips again, to get little diamond shapes.
  • Carefully tip in all the little dough diamonds into the hot oil (steer clear from tiny oil splashes in the process) and fry on both sides until crisp and light brown. Take care not to over fry them.
  • Drain onto a paper towel and store in an airtight jar.
  • You could even sprinkle a wee bit of chat masala powder when they're out of the oil and before they go into the jar.
I hope you enjoy these with your next cup of tea or coffee :)

*pakodas & bajjis: vegetable or onion fritters made with chickpea flour
*mixture: a medley of tiny deep fried (or toasted) nibbles (often sev & boondi, made from chickpea flour) and peanuts.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Strawberry Fields!

Okay, so it's been way too long since I yak-yakked here! I was just having a 'very-bored-yet-not-really-interested-to-do-anything' phase. And although I do feel like I'm getting out of it, a tiny bit of that vague feeling still lingers. So I thought I'd knock it off and give my bubbly, positive side a chance to do a come back. This post is one of my action points to do just that.

We're in Adelaide, South Australia, right now. The city of churches and the state with sprawling vineyards. We haven't really planned a wine tasting tour (yeah, that's right!) merely because we don't have the time for it. Husby darling is here on work and I'm just accompanying him, you know being the adorable little puppy who follows him everywhere (batting eyelashes). So no vineyards on our list, but definitely eating out a lot (since I'm determined not to cook this week), a trip (or two) to the Casino and lots of simply loitering around the city on our agenda :)

We did, however, drive down (up?) to this quaint little German settlement called Hahndorf just about 30mins from Adelaide city. It's a nice place, lots of shops to look at, sinful homemade fudge, bustling pubs serving German quintessentials and a general 'feel-good' factor. There's also the famous Beerenberg Farm a short walk up the main street.The main attraction there is strawberry picking and the range of jams, sauces and chutneys you can buy at their retail store. We thought we'd just 'have a look around' and wouldn't really pick any berries. But then there's something about the lush, fresh and very red strawberries that make you want to pick them! Rows & rows of little green shrubs with strawberries looking oh-so-pretty right there in the open, all natural, all beautiful! It's a lovely feeling, a hundred times better than when you spot a good punnet of firm ones at the supermarket. So we (rather I) ended up picking strawberries and looking pretty as husby darling took pictures :) It was 'well worth it', like the friendly lady at the store counter had said to us. We also bought a couple of jars of jams and sauces. It's hard to resist, especially when there's so much variety and they're so neatly stacked.

So now I have a big(gish) tray of fresh strawberries and I wish I had my cozy little kitchen here to bake something with them. But oh yeah, I'm determined not to cook this week, remember? So for now, I'll just be content with biting into a shiny, juicy strawberry, as is :)

There! It feels so good to do a rambling post after so long! Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing about it. And if you ever are in Adelaide, do the strawberry thing, it's well worth it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I call it 'Wedding Palya'!

Well, here I am! Yes, I haven't disappeared from the face of the earth :) To tell you the truth, I have been so busy that I haven't had time to post. 'Pretty cliched and lame', you may say...but it IS true! The way I've been cooking for the past couple of weeks, I should probably be posting every single day! Oh the irony!

Anyways, so I thought I'd sign in and share this recipe with you. I had to share it. This is something that I talk about often but had never tried before. And today, I made it at home, just like that! Okay so now I better tell you what I'm talking about, right? It's what I call 'maduve palya' (literally translated: wedding steamed salad). no points for guessing why :) This kind of palya is typically served at weddings or other large gatherings where a traditional south Indian meal is served on a fresh plantain leaf. All you south Indians or more particularly from south Karnataka would probably know that this dish is generally made with suvarna gedde or suran or yam. I made it in my cozy little kitchen with kent pumpkin.

Here's the recipe -
  • 2 cups diced pumpkin
  • salt to taste
  • a pinch of turmeric
 For the spice paste -
  • 1/4 cup fresh coconut
  • 5-6 dry red chillies
  • 1/4 tspn black mustard seeds
  • a pinch of hing
  • a (very) small piece of jaggery/molasses
  • 1/4 tspn tamarind paste
For tempering -
  • 1/2 tspn oil
  • 1/4 tspn mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tspn urad dal
  • 1/4 tspn chana dal
  • a few curry leaves
Method -
  1. Microwave/steam the pumpkin with a pinch of turmeric. Try and keep the pieces firm (but cooked) and not very mushy.
  2. Make the spice paste with all ingredients mentioned. Use very little water. (all ingredients are to be ground just the way they are, no roasting required)
  3. Heat oil in a pan and add all ingredients for tempering, in the same order.
  4. Add cooked pumpkin, salt to taste and mix well.
  5. Put in the spice paste and mix well.
  6. Serve with hot rice and tomato rasam.
As I was cooking this, the subtle aroma brought back memories of the several gatherings we used to have back at home. The familiar sights, the sounds, the food! I think I'll do a post on wedding food soon :)

Till next time...cook, serve, eat, love!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Baking @ Home

Baking is so much fun!

Benne Biscuit or Butter Cookies - based on a couple of recipes I found on the internet.

 Masala Bun. Recipe here.

Will be back soon with more!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Quick Little Celebration

Husby darling passed the driving test at one go, yippeee! That called for a sweet reward :) So Kalakand was quickly made and quickly devoured. So easy, so quick, so divine! Enough said...sorry I don't have great pics, so that should tell you how patient we were after it was made! I found the recipe at, a fun and fab place for great recipes.

I think you should definitely try this. I mean, with only two ingredients and very little effort, every day can be a celebration, what say? *wink*

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Powerpacked One-Pot Dish

Bisibelebath, a word too familiar with true Bangaloreans :) A wholesome one pot dish packed with protein (toor dal), nutrients (veggies) and carbohydrate (rice) + mighty comforting! Eaten hot with crisp tangy boondi* and raita or pachhadi*. I turned to this simple yet filling combo for dinner when we had friends over the other day. Teamed with crisp masala vades*, cucumber pachhadi, some cooling yogurt rice and (very) sweet semiya payasam*, it made for a satisfying menu, or so our guests implied :)

I'm posting the recipes for bisibelebath and cucumber pachhadi -

Bisibelebath -
  • 1 cup rice (washed and drained)
  • 1/2 cup toor dal (washed and drained)
  • 2 cups mixed veggies - cubed - I had carrot, potato, green beans, peas and avarekalu (hyacinth beans)
  • 2-3 tbspns bisibelebath powder (store bought or made from scratch) - I used MTR ready powder
  • 1 tspn tamarind paste
  • 1/2 tspn jaggery - crushed (molasses)
  • salt to taste
For tempering -
  • 1 tbspn ghee (clarified butter) or oil
  • 1/4 tspn mustard seeds
  • a pinch of hing (asafotieda)
  • a handful of curry leaves
  • a handful of peanuts
  • a pinch of turmeric
Method -

You could quite easily follow the recipe on the MTR packet. Nevertheless -
  • Cook rice and dal together. (I used a pressure cooker)
  • Cook veggies separately (I cooked them in the microwave)
  • Combine cooked rice+dal and veggies in a big sauce pot. Add enough water to bring to a semi solid consistency, like that of a thick porridge.
  • Add all other ingredients, one by one and mix well. Bring to a light simmer.
  • Heat ghee/oil in a small pan and all ingredients for tempering.
  • Pour over the simmering bisibelebath and mix well.
  • Serve hot with a dollop of ghee, boondi or potato chips and pachhadi.
Note: This dish tends to solidify and turn lumpy when left to cool. Before serving, add a wee bit of warm water and reheat, making sure the consistency is that of a thick porridge.

Cucumber Pachhadi -
  • 2 medium cucumbers - finely chopped or grated
  • 2-3 cups yogurt or buttermilk
  • salt to taste
grind to a paste-
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut
  • 1/4 tspn jeera (whole cumin)
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 2 tbspns fresh coriander - chopped
tempering -
  • 1 tspn oil
  • 1-2 dry red chillies, roughly broken into chunks
  • 1/4 tspn mustard seeds
  • a pinch of hing (asafotieda)
  • a few curry leaves
Method -
  • Tip in finely chopped cucumber into a large bowl.
  • Combine coconut paste and yogurt and add to chopped cucumber.
  • Add salt to taste and mix well. Adjust consistency by adding some water if the yogurt is thick. The consistency of pachhadi should be fairly loose.
  • Heat oil in a small pan and add all ingredients for tempering.
  • Pour tempering over the pachhadi and mix well.
Bisibelebath or BBB as some people fondly call it, is a signature dish from Karnataka. Try it and you're sure to enjoy its homely, wholesome taste :)

*boondi = a crisp tangy Indian savoury made from chickpea flour
*pachhadi = a yogurt based runny salad of sorts
*masala vades = crisp spicy lentil fritters (recipe here)
*semiya payasam = a sweet porridge made from milk, sugar and vermicelli

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Soulful Comfort Food

It was a cold, morbid afternoon. I wasn't in my happy place. Outside, the wind howled adding to my downcast mood. It seemed like the sun wasn't  very upbeat either 'cos he was hiding behind the dark, gloomy clouds. Nothing around me suggested cheer. Yet I had to eat...somehow I believed that I would feel better if I ate. I longed for my mom's tomato saaru and aloo fry, sigh! With that soothing picture in mind, I went about making lunch. Nothing fancy, just some really simple food. Some call it khichdi, some others may call it something else. But to me, it was a mood-lifter of sorts. 'Shhh' said the pressure cooker, three to four times and it was as if it was saying, 'hush now, everything's going to be alright'...My house smelt of jeera, ghee and hing...familiar smells of home. Now that's what I call soulful comfort food!

  • 1 cup rice (washed and drained)
  • 1/4 cup toor dal (washed and drained)
  • 2 tbspns ghee
  • 1 tspn whole cumin (jeera)
  • 1/4 tspn hing (asafotieda)
  • 2-3 fresh green chillies, slit
  • a handful of curry leaves
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tspn ground turmeric
  • a few peppercorns
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • 1 cup avarekai - now I don't know what this is called in English. I used the frozen ones and on the packet it said Lima Beans & Tuvar Lilva (see picture)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • whole garam masala - cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf and cardamom pods (optional)
  • salt to taste
Method -
  • Heat ghee in a pressure cooker and add whole cumin, hing, pepper corns, curry leaves, green chillies, garlic and turmeric, one after the other. (If you're including whole garam masala, add at this stage.) Your kitchen should smell really good right now :)
  • Toss in chopped onion and saute for a bit.
  • Now add in rice and dal and mix well. This mixture needs to kind of fry for a couple of minutes. Give it some time until the rice turns opaque. But make sure the flame is sort of medium low as we don't want anything to burn. This is kind of an important step if you don't want everything to turn into a mush in the end.
  • Next, in go the cubed potatoes and avarekai.
  • A quick mix and it's time to add water. Now normally, we'd follow the 1:2 ratio for rice. But this needs to have a porridge like consistency. So go ahead and add about two or three cups more than you normally would. For this recipe, add about six cups of water.
  • Sprinkle salt for taste and give everything a good stir.
  • With the cooker weight on, let this cook for about three to four whistles.
  • Serve hot with pickle, more ghee and papadums.
If you don't have a pressure cooker, you could probably make it in a biggish pot with a lid or you could use the microwave. Cooking times may vary.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In a Jiffy!

It's been quiet here at the Cozy Little Kitchen. But that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking up a storm! Just that I was lazy to take pictures and post about all the yummy recipes I've been churning :)

But this, I couldn't miss posting about... When husby darling ventured into the kitchen late one afternoon, driven by my craving for a certain Bengalooru snack - kodubale (koe-du-ba-lei)

I was being crabby, bored and wanted to snack - an unusual combination of emotions! You might have figured I didn't want to get up from the spot on the couch I'd been warming :) So, my next logical move was that of a shrewd predator on a hunt. My vision zeroed in on my unsuspecting man as he sat browsing through some DVDs. 'I want to munch on something', I declared loudly. No response. 'I feel like a snack, something spicy, something crunchy', I continued. This time he looked at me, got up and walked to the kitchen asking if I wanted some chips or peanuts. Out of nowhere I said I felt like eating kodubale. I didn't really expect anything except a, 'Hmmm...yeah, but we only have chips, want some?'. But I was pleasantly surprised when husby actually looked through my recipe books and pulled out one that I'd nicked from Amma's place.  The book was in Kannada and I had a good laugh as he struggled with the instructions. But, strangely enough, he followed it thoroughly, measured out everything and set about making kodubale! With a wee bit of help from me, he actually managed to fulfil my out-of-the-blue desire that boring afternoon! Talk about feeling loved and special!

Here's the recipe as it appears in the book -

  1. Rice Flour - 500gms
  2. Chickpea Flour (besan) - 250gms (we used 2 cups of rice flour and 1 cup of besan)
  3. A pinch of asafotieda
  4. Coconut - one half (we used dessicated coconut)
  5. Red chili powder - 1 tbspn
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Oil for deep frying
Combine all ingredients (1-6) with some water to form a stiff dough. Roll and shape into kodubales (see pictures) and deep fry until light brown and crisp.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favourite Things...

It's been almost three years since I set up our Cozy Little Kitchen. Looking out for a special something for our kitchen, thoughtful gifts received from family and friends, random shopping trips, impulse buys -I think they've all added a special character to our kitchen. I still am that excited young wife whenever I go shopping, always on the look out for something different :)

I thought I'd share with you some of the things I absolutely love in our Cozy Little Kitchen...

marble stone mortar 'n' pestle: from an Asian store, Sydney

kitchen towels 'n' pot holders in my fave combo: gift from SIL

glass cookie jars: from IKEA, Sydney

carrot peeler: gift from MIL

oggarne dabba: from Bengalooru

lady grate: gift from a girlfriend

my hot pink silicon bar cake tray: Target, Sydney

gorgeous peacock theme mugs: gift from friends, San Diego

my loyal Tupps: gift from Ma

black long stemmed wine glasses: Homeware store, Sydney

cute lil spreaders: gift from SIL

I bet this list will grow 'n' grow 'n' keep growing :)

What are some of your favourite things in your kitchen? Share them with your blog world friends. Post about them on your blogs or leave a comment to your link here. I'd love to see some pictures as well.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Everyone's Favourite

The classic chewy chocolate chip cookies! I found the recipe here. It's so simple, you can't go wrong with it! And the cookies, my-oh-my! They turned out great :) The only thing I'd probably do differently next time is make smaller ones. These ones didn't quite get into my cookie jar! But they are absolutely divine - crisp 'n' chewy at the same time :-D

So here's the ingredients list - Makes about 12 really large cookies :)

  • 1 and 1/8 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • a stick of unsalted butter (soft)
  • 6 tbspns white sugar
  • 6 tbspns brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup choc chips
Mix everything as you would for any cookie dough. Refrigerate for about 30mins atleast. Preheat oven to 165 deg. Divide the cookie dough into small portions and roll each portion into a ball. Place on a cookie sheet (these really spread) and bake for about 15-17 minutes or until lightly brown. 

The video in the link is fab! Take a look.

Monday, June 21, 2010

More Inspiration!

Got these books recently...

They're absolutely gorgeous! I did try a couple of recipes from them, but sadly, the laziness bug got me and I did not take any pictures. I baked 'choc-vanilla swirls' from the Easy Baking book. I made 'pumpkin-honey-mustard soup' from the Vegetarian Bible. I haven't tried anything from the one in the middle yet, but lemme tell you - that book is wonderful! So many lovely ideas...I'm thinking lots of edible gifts :-D

I'm still working on these books and will do so for a long, long time! There are loads 'n' loads of interesting recipes in there. I'll definitely try and take pictures next time and post all about them :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sweet Heaven!

Gajar ka Halwa a.k.a Carrot Halwa is by far the most loved dessert in India. Thanks to the melodramatic mothers of Bollywood tinsel town who make the macho sons all mushy when they're offered a bowl of the orange gooey stuff oozing with desi ghee (clarified butter) and motherly love.

(Okay, so I did go overboard with the nuts! But believe me, there was heaps of halwa under that obsessive layer of dry fruit!)

We made this special dessert for some special guests at dinner one Sunday. I say 'we'. Husby darling, my sous chef  who tackled probably the hardest part of the recipe - the grand grating of half a Kg (or more) of carrots, truly deserves to be a part of this post :)

Recipe -
  • a bag of carrots (approx 500gms) peeled and grated - baby carrots work really well, they're tender and moist
  •  3/4 or 1 cup sugar (according to your sweet-o-meter)
  • 1 cup ghee
  • Approx 1 + cup of milk (enough to cook carrots)
  • 1/2 cup mixed nuts - cashews, almonds and raisins
  • 1/4 tspn cardamom powder
Method -
  1. First of all, if you're not feeling particularly patient or if you're generally annoyed about something, make this another day! Believe me, it takes some patience and a sense of peace to accomplish this sweet heaven ;)
  2. So, once you've decided you're quite saintly, then heat about a tbspn of ghee in a wide, shallow pan. Non stick works wonders.
  3. Toss in the mixed nuts and fry until lightly toasted and aromatic.
  4. Drain and set aside. This will later be sprinkled on the prepared halwa.
  5. Into the same pan, tip in the grated carrot and mix well. Don't forget to appreciate your sous chef (if there is one) with a smile at this stage :)
  6. With the flame on medium, add enough milk to just about cover the carrot and cook until soft. Don't add too much lest it turns out to be carrot porridge.
  7. Once you're completely satisfied that the carrot is soft 'n' cooked, add in the sugar and mix well. If you add sugar a tad too early, then the carrots won't cook further and you'll end up with crunchy bits. What did I tell you about patience before? It does take a while for the carrot to cook completely. And remember, all this on medium or low heat. We don't want the whole thing to burn.
  8. Once the sugar has been added, it's only a matter of minutes until everything amalgamates well.
  9. Oh, before I forget, keep adding a spoonful or two of ghee during the entire process in well spaced intervals until you finish the 1 cup of ghee you started with.
  10. Sprinkle cardamom powder and mix well again.
  11. Continue on medium heat for another 10 minutes or so, taking care not to let it burn.
  12. Remove from heat and garnish with fried nuts.
  13. Best served warm with lots of love!
This can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated. Just stick it into the microwave before you serve.

P.S: Special hugs to my dear friend for the super efficient and super cute grate! Love it :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

An Indian Twist to an Italian Favourite!

It was Saturday and we had done quite a bit of mindless, impulsive shopping. Husby's face was growing longer and sadder as the day went and I still hadn't taxed him with the weekly grocery shopping yet! After a snail paced episode of shopping at the local supermarket, husby darling just about had enough patience to push the cart (normally) towards our car without crashing it into some poor unsuspecting shopper in frustration. I tagged along to keep up with him while I scanned the longish receipt to see if we were charged right for everything. As we loaded the boot of our car with the many bags, I tried cheering him up by promising to make pizza for dinner. He didn't seem like he cared much. But when the pizza was made (and the kitchen smelt so good!), cut and served with some yummy garlic and cheese bread, he finally smiled, ear to ear :) 

Here's what I did - 

Make at home Pizza with Indian flavours. I can't help it! I'm Indian and I love the masalas :) 

  • store bought pizza base
  • tomato sauce/ketchup - 1 tbspn
  • toppings (use as desired) - thinly sliced onion, thinly sliced capsicum, diced paneer , thinly sliced jalapeno chillies (de-seeded to save the mouth from catching fire), grated cheese, chopped coriander
  • spices - (use as desired) paprika, chilli flakes, curry powder, salt
Method - 

  • Preheat oven to 200 deg Celsius
  • Spread tomato sauce over the pizza base and load it with toppings
  • Sprinkle on the spices 
  • Bake for about 10 mins (might vary from oven to oven)
  • Serve hot with more ketchup and chilli sauce
It was so much better than as good as the ones we usually order in, honestly.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Your Wish is My Command, Master!

On one of our grocery shopping trips, HD was scanning the shelves in the biscuits/cookies aisle while he decisively said, 'Make those melt-in-the-mouth Iyengar Bakery* cookies for me, please.' I felt oddly good as I pictured myself as the quintessential house wife in the 50s, donning a flowery apron, wooden spoon and mixing bowl in hand, dutifully baking a batch of warm cookies and beaming in satisfaction as my darling husband munched on them (wow! some imagination!) Anyways, he was lucky as I was still on a 'new oven' high. So I decided to bake some cookies and although I chose not to make them Iyengar Bakery style, he seemed pretty content with the Peanut Butter Cookies, my style :)

Here's the recipe:

100gms unsalted butter
2 tbspns peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups plain flour (or as much as the mixture needs to form a dough)
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn vanilla extract


Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
Crack in one egg and whisk gently.
Add vanilla extract.
Sift flour and baking powder into the creamed mixture and gently work into a dough.
Cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
When you're ready to bake, remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and shape into balls, about an inch each.
Place on a cookie tray and lightly press down flat with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern. (They do expand a little, so allow enough space.)
Bake for about 10-12mins in  a preheated oven at 180 deg.
Cool on a wire rack and store in a cookie jar!

I must say, the smell of cookies baking in the oven, the cold winds outside, a tired husby back from work and two nice hot cups of coffee - bliss! I read somewhere that cooking is love made visible, I couldn't agree more :)

Hope you enjoy baking and eating these cookies with someone you love!

*Popular local bakeries in Bangalore.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Delicious Accident!

The other day, I wanted to test the oven here at our new apartment and I decided to bake a basic vanilla cake. I don't really stick to any one specific recipe for a plain cake. I just kind of go along with the flow. That's exactly how I started when I had this sweet little accident and ended up with some yummy banana bread kinda thing instead :) See, what I did was cleverly replace one egg with a banana that was crying out to be used, what with all the mushy bits and dark spots! In the end, the house smelt heavenly as the banana and vanilla in the oven did a slow waltz and wafted through the kitchen. And yeah, well, I found that the oven works, very efficiently :)

My accidental recipe for banana bread - 

1.25 cups plain flour
100gms unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 (very) ripe banana
1 tbspn milk
1tspn baking powder
a few drops of vanilla essence


  1. In a large mixing bowl, throw in the (softened) butter and sugar and whisk well until combined.
  2. Break in the egg and continue to whisk.
  3. Mash the banana and mix into the contents in the bowl.
  4. Add the vanilla essence.
  5. Sift the flour with baking powder, add in slowly to the mixture and keep whisking to form a smooth batter.
  6. Add milk to adjust consistency of the batter, which should be neither too stiff nor runny.
  7. Pour into a greased and floured baking tin and chuck it into a preheated oven.
  8. Bake at 180 deg for about 20mins or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.
  9. Serve warm with a dollop of love :) 
Husby was as thrilled as I was! He kept saying that I should bake this often, which I really think I will. Maybe I'll try using wholemeal flour the next time. Or buy some bananas and wait until they look pathetic, again!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Note of Thanks!

Appa a.k.a Kuzhi Paniyaram a.k.a Paddu, call it what you may, but it sure was on my 'to make' list for a while. Okay, so let me describe it for you - something comforting that Doddamma (my granny) used to make for us. It is (I think) made from a batter very similar to Dosa/Idly. Well, if you ask me, I'd probably say it is made with Dosa batter. You kitchen goddesses out there, please enlighten me :) Anyways, it's looks like a dumpling, is kind of crisp on the outside and soft 'n' fluffy inside. It can be made both sweet and savoury. Believe me, it tastes much better than my rather boring description of it. Spiced up with loads of chopped onion, chillies and coriander, served with a dollop of ghee/butter and some fresh green chutney...finger lickin' good! The sweet version is great too. If I remember correctly, I think Doddamma used to make it with cucumber and jaggery. Unusual combination did you say? Well, you should try it.

So then, I was saying, I'd been wanting to make it in my cozy little kitchen here in Sydney. Husby had also expressed his greed for it a couple of times. But sad thing was I didn't have the special griddle for it. And then on my recent trip to Bangalore, my dear Chikkamma (mum's little sister) gave it to me as a present. Now, wasn't that a stroke of luck? That was one thing I refused to leave behind, even though my baggage was dangerously tipping towards E.X.C.E.S.S! Here's a picture of it - 

Back in Sydney, I unpacked my very own 'appa kallu' (okay, I'm not making it up! That's what it's called) in glee. I made some appas or kuzhi paniyarams the very next day. However, I don't have a recipe for it as such 'cos I made them using a store bought Dosa mix. I simply prepared the batter as per instructions, added lots of chopped onion, green chillies and fresh coriander and cooked them with (very little) spray oil. Thay turned out so good that between Husby darling & me, we easily devoured 25 something of the yummy little rascals! I did say they were little, didn't I? Lest you think what gluttons we are, hehehe. I made Tomato-Onion Chutney to go with it. Yum-mmy!

So that was a little story of our craving being satisfied. All thanks to Jathu Chikkamma :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Basil and Spinach Risotto with Parmesan

 In a little Italian restaurant in La Jolla, on our holiday in the States last year, I had the best risotto. It could have been the slightly elated feeling of being on a holiday, the beautiful weather and the interesting surroundings or just the hunger! Anyways, I've been wanting to recreate something similar at home, well not the weather or anything, the recipe. Of course you knew that, tsk! So I scoured the internet for simple risotto recipes. I had some fresh basil and spinach but no mushrooms. I had a small bag of arborio rice but no white wine. Finally, I came up with my own easy version. It was quick and easy and tasted great! Here's the recipe-
  1. 1 cup arborio rice
  2. 2 cups vegetable stock
  3. 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  4. 1/4 cup chopped basil
  5. 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  6. 1 tbspn olive oil/butter
  7. salt & pepper to taste
  • Wash the rice and drain.
  • Heat oil in a saucepan/pot and add the rice.
  • Stir around for a bit and then add in the spinach and basil.
  • Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • When almost all the broth is absorbed, sprinkle some parmesan and cover and cook until the rice is well cooked.
  • Serve hot with a generous garnish of the remaining parmesan.
 You can add mushroom or zucchini to this recipe. A word of caution though, be wary of the salt you add as parmesan does have some in it already.

Bruschetta, Risotto and frozen Tiramisu from the supermarket - An Italian feast at home!Easy-peasy :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Inspired Italian Cooking: Bruschetta

Back from a holiday in India, I slowly felt the kitchen induced lethargy. All the inevitable cooking, the endless pots 'n' pans - some in the sink, some in the dishwasher, the wilting veggies in my fridge, made me want to scream in frustration! Then, as if a storm was gone, the calm settled in, giving me a renewed sense of enthusiasm. I wanted to make something nice for dinner, really! Both husby & I were bored of the routine and wanted something else. So, I decided to try some Italian cuisine. Nothing fancy, thought I'd start with Bruschetta. Awfully simple to make but one heck of a classy, timeless and highly satisfying appetiser/starter/snack!

Bruschetta for two -

4 thick slices of bread - the classic recipe calls for a baguette, but I think any bread will work for a quick fix. (I cut my square slices in half)

1 firm tomato, finely chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 tbspns fresh basil, finely chopped

3 tbspns grated parmesan

salt & pepper to taste

some minced garlic in olive oil to brush on the slices of bread

  1. Mix finely chopped onion, tomato, basil, cheese and salt & pepper in a bowl.
  2. Brush the slices of bread with the garlic and olive oil.
  3. Grill/toast the slices until crunchy and light brown.
  4. Spread a spoonful of the prepared mixture and serve immediately.
  5. Top with more grated cheese just before serving.
Fresh bruschetta, a bottle of good wine and endless that's something I needed to calm down!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My own version of 'Indian-Chinese-Fried rice'

A lot of us Indians living overseas would've definitely craved for the notoriously famous Indian-Chinese at least a few times. The spicy 'n' crispy Gobi Manchurian, the colourful and tangy Fried Rice and the delightful Sweet 'n' Sour Soup, they make our mouths water. There are a couple of restaurants here in Sydney that brag about serving Indian Chinese specialties, but we've never actually ventured. So what does one do? Make it at home, of course! Here's my version of a quick, throw-n-toss-together version of fried rice, Indian-Chinese style :)

2 cups cooked rice - straight out of the fridge (left over rice works best)

3 tbspns sesame oil

1/2 onion, finely sliced
1/2 tspn ginger paste
1/2 tspn garlic paste
1 green chilli, finely sliced

2 tbspns finely shredded cabbage
2 tbspns finely chopped carrot
2 msuhrooms, diced
2 tbspns finely diced capsicum/bell pepper
1tbspn corn
1 tbspn peas
2 tbspns finely chopped spring onion

soy sauce - to taste
vinegar - to taste
chilli sauce - to taste
a dash of tomato sauce/ketchup
salt & pepper - to taste
a pinch of sugar

  1. Heat oil in a large wok and add all the ingredients in group one and toss for a couple of minutes.
  2. Next, in go all the veggies (except spring onion). Saute for a couple of minutes until slightly cooked but still a little crunchy.
  3. Now add all the taste makers in group three and mix.
  4. Throw in the rice and toss around until well amalgamated.
  5. Garnish with spring onion.
This is so easy 'n' quick and tastes great. You could even add an egg or two if you wish to make it egg fried rice :)


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