Monday, December 23, 2013

Last Minute Christmas Cake

Phew! Last minute Christmas Cake is best for those in a rush...like me...I made this at the last minute before I set out on a travel and I am posting the recipe while sitting in a hotel room. I hope you are able to make it and enjoy it too. I have not cut the cake yet, can't wait for Christmas.


Have a Merry Christmas!


Last Minute Christmas Cake
Prep time: 20 mins | Bake time: 1-1/2 hours | Yield: 8 inch cake

Ingredients:
  • 350 grams mixed dried fruits * see notes
  • 80 grams / 3 oz butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Irish Cream or fresh cream for an alcohol free cake
  • 1 cup self raising flour * see notes
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon powder * see notes
  • 2 tablespoons rum * optional, see notes
Method:
1. Chop the dried fruit into as small pieces as possible and keep aside. Sift the flour and nutmeg/cinnamon powder.
2. Grease and line an 8 inch round cake tin with parchment paper and keep aside. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees C for 15 minutes.
3. In a large mixing bowl beat the sugar and butter until well mixed. Add one egg at a time and beat. Pour in the Irish cream or the fresh cream and blend. Add the sifted flour and nutmeg/cinnamon mixture and mix until well incorporated.
4. Add the chopped fruits and give it once last mix. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, smoothen the surface with a spatula and bake for 1-1/2 hours or till the skewer inserted comes out clean. The top of the cake should be nice and firm and darkish brown in colour
5. Remove and cover the pan with a piece of foil to retain all the moisture.

Notes:
1. I used a blend of tutti-fruitti, raisins, black currants, dried chunks of fruit (papaya, pineaple), dried ginger. I recommend you use a  fewer dried fruits that are not so tart/sour (like black raisins or cranberries) and more of sweeter ones like dates, figs & prunes.
2. To make your own self raising flour sift flour into a cup (1 cup = 237 ml) and then add 1-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and sift it well together.
3. You may use any spice blend of your choice if you don't like nutmeg or cinnamon. You can use all spice (a kind of spice that looks like peppercorns) or mixed spice (a blend of spices like garam masala but without the chillies/pepper and is used in the preparation of fruit cakes)
4. If you are using fresh cream instead of Irish cream due to lack of availability of the latter try adding a bit of rum or red wine for that bit of alcohol flavour.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gingerbread Men


On one of my recent shopping escapades I came across a very nice book on Christmas recipes. It had every recipe that one could possibly want to try during the festive season. While I couldn't decide which one I should try out first, this particular recipe caught my eye. I had only heard about gingerbread men. I used to be a huge fan of Enid Blyton's novels during my childhood and that lady can definitely make one salivate with her description of food. Cupcakes, muffins, scones and such to be eaten along with high tea. Pretty much the stuff that made up for a majority of her stories. I loved reading her books and they always made me hungry so I'd always run to my mum and ask her to whip me something quickly to satiate the hunger pangs. Well, since my mum never baked she made Indian equivalents of the goodies. Pancakes a.k.a dosa would appear on a plate in front of me and I would lavishly pour honey or ghee and sugar over it and wallop it down. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mincemeat Crumble Bars (Pure Vegetarian!) ~ Christmas Baking


Ho ho ho! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Almost every mall and commercial establishment here in Dubai is decked up for the season. My Christmas shopping began months ago when I started jotting down recipes to be tried this year. By early October I had finalised my menu and started trying out dishes. I am so glad I did this as my camera and laptop decided to crash in when the baking-clicking frenzy had just caught up with me. Luckily they are repaired and are back with me in the nick of time. While the duo was gone I did get some quality time to stop thinking about food and live life as a non blogger for a bit. Yes, on many occasions I contemplated using my iPhone camera to click pictures, but none satisfied me as would my trusted DSLR would. Anyway, one of the recipes I had tried out 'pre-crash' was the mincemeat crumble bars. 


I had seen this recipe a while ago and bookmarked it. However, the name was pretty misleading. If you thought this is a hardcore non vegetarian savoury dish you are wrong! This dish has nothing to do with meat! In fact, this recipe doesn't even contain eggs! Then why is it called 'mincemeat'? Well, traditionally mincemeat was a mixture of dried fruits, spices, vinegars, eggs and beef or venison meat. This was used as a pie filling and was eaten more as a dessert than as a savoury meal accompaniment. Today's mincemeat is restricted to just dried fruits, fruit peels & spices heavily soaked in rum or brandy and makes an excellent mixture to be added to rum cakes or pies. Notice that the name says 'mince meat' and not 'minceD meat'. 

Confused? So was I initially. On our several trips to the supermarket I looked for a bottle of mincemeat but could not find any, so I asked my brother and other relatives to keep an eye out just in case they found one. Everyone had a 'savoury' requirement in mind and even suggested that I should ask the local butcher if I wanted it specifically made :D Anyway, once the confusion was cleared and I found my jar of mincemeat I got to work immediately. 


These crumble bars have a crumbly shortbread base (like a butter cookie) with a sweet & tart and VERY rich mincemeat filling topped by a lovely sweet crumble with almonds. This is a perfect dessert on your Christmas menu if you really don't have time to put a proper Christmas cake together. Of course, these crumble bars don't aim to replace the cake in any way but they sure make up for your sins as they are almost like short bread cookies married to mixed dried fruit :-)

Mincemeat Crumble Bars
Recipe source: Everyday Muffins & Bakes

Prep time: 15 mins | Chilling time: 20 mins | Baking time: 35 | Yield 12 bars or 9 squares

Ingredients:
For the shortbread crust (bottom layer)

  • 140 grams / 5 oz unsalted  butter at room temperature + extra for greasing the pan
  • 85 grams/ 3 oz golden caster sugar * see note#1
  • 150 grams / 5-1/2 oz plain flour (maida)
  • 85 grams/ 3 oz cornflour (cornstarch)

For the filling (middle layer)

  • 400 grams/ 14 oz ready made mincemeat
  • icing sugar for dusting

For the topping

  • 115 grams/ 4 oz self-raising flour*see notes
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 85 grams/ 3 oz golden caster sugar
  • 25 grams/ 1oz flaked almonds *see notes

Method:
1. Grease & line a shallow 28x20 com/ 11x8 inch cake tin with baking parchment. (I simply used a 9x9 inch square tin). Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/400 F.
2. To make the bottom layer, beat the butter & sugar in a bowl till pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour, cornflour and then with your hands lightly knead the mixture together to form a ball. Press this dough into the prepared cake tin and even it out. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes. Then bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes till it is puffed & golden.
3. To make the middle layer spread the mince meant over the bottom layer.
4. To make the crumble topping, place the flour, butter, sugar in a bowl and rub together till the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the flaked almonds. and spread this mixture over the mincemeat layer. Bake in the oven for another 20-22 minutes till golden brown.
5. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool for 12-15 minutes. Run a knife through to make bars. Cool completely.
6. Dust icing sugar over the bars and serve. Store in an airtight container - it keeps well at room temperature for 3-4 days (not in hot weather though)

Notes:
1. Since I didn't have golden caster sugar I used regular white - fine granulated caster sugar. You may use regular sugar measured and then powdered in a grinder.
2. To make your own self raising flour measure out 1 cup (115 grams flour) by sifting the flour directly into the measuring cup. This way you are certain not to cram up any extra flour. Alternatively you may simply weigh the quantity on a kitchen scale. Add to it 1-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder & 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Sift all the ingredients together once again.
3. Flaked almonds are sliced almonds (without skin). Buy them ready made if they are available, otherwise simply blanch them at home - Place almonds (with skin) in a bowl and pour enough boiling water to cover them. Cover the bowl with a lid and keep for 15 minutes. The peels should come off easily. Pat them dry and thinly slice them lengthwise. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rava Laadu / Rawa Laddoo (Sweet Semolina Balls) - Christmas Goodies - Kuswar


Indian sweets - well, what do I say about them? As much as I claim that I don't have a sweet tooth, I do. Big time. I didn't have one during my growing up years but ever since I had my kids I have this undying love for Indian sweets. Laddoos top the list and I just can't seem to resist them. The best part about laddoos is that they are so versatile, from the traditional ones to the more contemporary ones, you can make them out of any ingredient. Just shape them into balls - any size and they qualify to be called a laddoo. 

While each region in India offers its own variety of favourites the boondi laddos (sweet balls made of chick pea flour droplets) and rava laddoos are by far the most pan Indian.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lemon Mascarpone Blondies


 One of the best perks of staying in Dubai is the massive array of baking ingredients that are available in most supermarkets here. Something I missed seeing in Mumbai. Yes, Crawford market in Mumbai does provide you with almost everything you need in your baking pantry but not only are most of the ingredients very pricey (since they are imported) there's also the inconvenience of going all the way to to town to purchase them. Ok, i'll kill the suspense and let you know what I am talking about. Cream cheese, mascarpone (pronounced as 'maaska-ponay'), chocolate chips, molasses, treacle - a few prized possessions that didn't come by too easily when I was in Mumbai are easily available here. So I am making the most of this opportunity and trying out as many recipes as possible that call for such ingredients. Well, yes, at my own peril. In these past few months I must have consumed a million calories thanks to these heavy duty dairy products, but I couldn't care less (well, not until I stood on the weighing scale, gulp!)


On one of my baking escapades I ended up with a lot more mascarpone cheese than the recipe asked for. Talk about not planning my groceries properly. Anyway, its a habitual thing for me - to pick up stuff on a whim, promising myself that I will turn it into something nice, getting back home with a load of groceries, putting them away and completely forgetting about them (that reminds me, I have a load of cream cheese sitting in the deli drawer of my fridge, Omigosh!). After browsing the net for a suitable recipe I came across this delicious recipe on Simply Recipes that made use of the mascarpone and lemons that were idly sitting in my fridge. By lemons I am talking about the large yellow ones which are not commonly available in India. In India we get lndian limes and lemons which are really small and maybe 2-3 of them may fit into one's palm easily. The ones available here are quite large and are perfect for desserts and cakes, the zest of which can marvelously uplift even a boring sponge cake.


Anyway, the most important story of the day is that I had a near death experience when I made these blondies. I chose to write about it just so that it serves to be a reminder to everyday cooks to be a bit more cautious in the kitchen. While I went about preheating the oven that day, I didn't realise that the gas burner for the oven (below the crumb tray) had gone off. My niece who was always alert brought it to my notice and I immediately went to open the kitchen door. Despite having exercised immediate caution, I don't know what compelled me to go right ahead, open the oven door and light the burner again. The next thing I knew was...Boom!!! I was thrown to the ground with a row of burnt hair, heart pounding like crazy and a scream that escaped my lips. This was the effect of that little gas that was trapped inside the oven that caught fire from the ignition of the gas lighter. Such a scary experience for me and the kids in the house who had been just chased out of the kitchen before my great adventure. After everyone had calmed down & I had gained my composure I made a vow that it was the last time that I was ever baking in a gas oven. Although the ceramic (smooth top/glass top) hob in my new house is painfully slow, it gives me a sense of safety every time I turn the power knob. I urge all my readers to exercise precaution before using gas ovens or any other kitchen appliance for that matter. It's never a good idea to be over smart or careless in the kitchen (or life in general).

Life is precious, so please stay safe!


Ahem! Back to the recipe now!

Blondies are just like brownies in terms of the texture. They are slightly fudgy, dense and in some cases may be chewy too. The only difference between brownies & blondies are that no cocoa or chocolate is used in the preparation of blondies. However some blondie recipes may call for chocolate chips. Cocoa or chocolate is replaced with brown sugar that gives blondies their taste and colour. They are baked in square/rectangular tins and cut into shapes before serving.

These blondies are simply melt-in-the-mouth. So decadent, so delicious and yes, rich too! But no matter how much you try to resist you won't be able to stop at one! The mascarpone cheese gives the moistness and flavour to these blondies making them so irresistible and any festive occasion definitely calls for these!


Lemon Mascarpone Blondies
Prep time: 20 mins | Bake time: 30 mins | Yield 9 blondies of 3x3" each

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (115grams) all purpose flour (maida), sifted
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (200gms) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100gms) butter, melted
  • 8 ounces (225gms) mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square tin and dust with flour. You could even line it with baking parchment.
2. Mix the melted butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the egg & vanilla extra and whisk well.
3. Add the lemon juice, zest & mascarpone cheese and mix until incorporated. Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt in parts & mix well.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin & spread the surface with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
5. Remove the tin cool it on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Then carefully invert onto the rack.
6. When completely cool cut into equal sized squares and serve.



Friday, December 6, 2013

Muffizzas (Muffin Shaped Thin Crust Pizzas Made from Chapathi Dough!)


Come Christmas or any festive season everybody is focused on making sweets - traditional or contemporary. Many a times we miss out on the preparation of savouries - especially the mini eats or snacks. I always break into a sweat when I host parties especially those for little kids who need to munch on something delicious and nutritious. I think these mini pizzas are the answer to some healthy home made snacks. They will serve well at parties for adults too as they are individual sized, made with whole wheat bases filled with delicious goodness of whatever you may fancy. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Traditional Chocolate Cake ~ Very Rich & Chocolatey!


My first attempt at making two cakes in one go and then sandwiching them together! All thanks to my new oven which is huge and can easily accommodate two cake tins side by side - a privilege I missed when I was in Mumbai. I made this cake for Baby Z's 1st Birthday, for the little celebration we had at home. I found the recipe in a lovely cookbook gifted to me by my brother just a few days before the birthday and I spent days on end flipping through its pages going crazy over which recipe I should try first. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas Recipes ~ New Picture Index!

(Click to view the Picture Index)

The best season of the year is finally here! I am completely in love with the Christmas season and the accompanying weather. It is not the first time that I am in Dubai for Christmas, but it definitely is our first Christmas in our own home here. Everybody I know has been asking how I will celebrate Christmas this year and what are the special things that I will be doing. Well, I have a few recipes that are still getting tested in my kitchen and hopefully those will make it to the blog soon - starting 1st December. Our Christmas tree will be up in the next couple of days and I can't wait to compile a list of my favourite Christmas carols & songs to bring in the cheer.

While some delicious aromas have been wafting through my kitchen door I simply couldn't resist compiling a brand new picture recipe index with all my favourite Christmas recipes! If you haven't yet noticed the tab right on top that says 'Christmas Recipes - Picture Index', then please click on this collage I have created. It will take you to the new index that will help you decide your menu for this Christmas.

As the days roll by I will be updating this index with new & old recipes alike - those that are popularly voted by my readers to be included in the list. I would love to have your feedback and also know how this index has helped you (if it has). If you have any tips or suggestions or just want to say hello, please mail me on ruchikrandhap@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Poori Saagu ~ Karnataka Style Mixed Vegetable Curry with Wholewheat Flat Bread

Now that we have settled down in our own home I have started trying out dishes, the recipes of which have been bookmarked ages ago. Last year when I had a temporary help hired during my delivery I had the opportunity to taste some Karnataka style food which I thoroughly enjoyed. Poori Saagu was one such dish which was prepared many times for breakfast. Although all of us at home enjoy eating piping hot pooris with any accompaniment I don't make them often due to the fact that it is not the healthiest because of the deep frying that is involved. I limit deep fried food to once in 2-3 months and when I do make it, we indulge. To make it healthier I prepare pooris with whole wheat flour (which is like the norm these days) to all purpose flour/maida.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pumpkin Pasta - Homemade Baby Food (For Babies Aged 9 months & Above)



A couple of weeks ago our little baby girl turned One! Yes, time really flies and she is 1 already. We ushered in her first birthday with a little celebration with close family & friends and what a fun day it was! She was lucky to cut two birthday cakes on two different days and shortly I will post the recipe of one of the cakes - the other one was prepared by my aunt.

For now, in Baby Z's honour I will start posting a few recipes for homemade baby food that I have collected since the past few months but never got time to post. These recipes are suitable for babies that are 6 months & above, but the posting will be done in no particular order. I think these recipes will benefit many moms to plan meal menus for their babies. However, please note that these are my own experiments at creating something nutritious, fun & delicious for my baby. These are recipe ideas that have worked for me so please use them only as a reference. The nutritional needs of babies vary and the right advice can only be given by the baby's doctor, so kindly use your discretion and medical advice before trying out any of these recipes.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mutton Chops Curry - When the hubby cooks!


My love affair with mutton started after I had moved to Mumbai. We used to get the best quality meat there. Well, to get the facts right, what we popularly get in most parts of India is goat meat and not lamb. ('bokdi' & 'bokro' will probably put the whole confusion to rest). Personally Roshan & I prefer goat meat to lamb as the latter has a stronger aftertaste of grass fed meat. Goat meat on the other hand has more rustic flavours and an aroma that makes you want to dive into the pot of simmering curry and wallop it down. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Simple & Easy Rava Mutli (Mildly Sweet & Savoury Rice Dumplings)


Breakfast - the most important meal of the day is also my favourite part of day. I fancy good breakfasts and I guess if my day has started off early I don't mind slaving over dishing out a good hearty breakfast. South Indian breakfasts always score above the rest in my house, but then they are also tedious to make from scratch. Long hours of soaking, grinding, fermenting, frying/steaming are part of almost every kind of breakfast item that gets devoured in minutes. So yes, sometimes it is pretty discouraging to even dive into this process. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Baked Portobello Mushrooms - When the Hubby Cooks!

Above pic: The egg looks raw, but don't be fooled! It is completely and firmly baked requiring a knife and fork to cut through!

In the midst of a busy week the husband promised to surprise me with something delicious. I had seen some portobello mushrooms lying in the fridge and I guessed that it would be something to do with baking them as he had tried sometime ago in Mumbai. However, I was totally bowled over by the presentation of this amazingly delicious dish. The egg in the centre looked so wonderful and timeless because it remained just the same before and after baking.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ash-e-Mast (Yogurt Soup with Meatballs - Persian Style)


The best two months of the year in my opinion are November & December and we are already there! Best because of the holiday season that is just around the corner. Having grown up in India, winter was not really much of a winter but greatly welcomed. Walking to school in a somewhat chilly weather as Mangalore's standards was such a joy for me at least. I experienced better winters in Bangalore when I was working there 10 years ago and although I didn't enjoy it so much as I hate cold weather. Riding the two wheeler was such a pain because I had to be completely packed in cold weather apparel, have my ears covered & what not. Anyway, this is nothing compared to what some of you face in those parts of the world that receive extreme weather including snow storms & the works. So let me quit complaining.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Panchakajjaya



Indians all across the world celebrate Deepavali today. Lighting lamps, offering prayers, preparing sweets & snacks, visiting people, bursting crackers and having a great deal of fun. Public places and commercial establishments are also decked up greet this beautiful festival of lights. 

During my childhood in Mangalore, our kind and generous neighbours used to send over a 'thali' (serving plate) filled with Deepavali sweets & savouries - pedas, kaju katlis, boondi laddoo, rava laddoo, mysore pak, kara sev, chakli & tukdi. A small portion of the day's neivedyam (offering to gods) was also sent along so I vaguely remember its taste and definitely remember that I enjoyed it along with every goodie on the platter. 

Today's recipe is a pretty popular one in South India.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Matar Potli Samosa (Deep Fried Pastry Pouches Stuffed with Spicy Green Peas)


Another special treat for you to enjoy this Diwali. Matar Potli or Potli Samosa is an interesting variation to the usual samosa. The difference being the outer casing of this samosa which is in the shape of a 'potli' or a money pouch that is so common all over India. I know a lot of grandmas who still have some moolah safely stashed away in an innocent looking purse made out of cloth. The more fancy and decorative ones are part of ethnic wear too. I have a couple which I sport when I am all decked up in a saree or a chudidar kameez.
When I recently came across this recipe in a weekly news magazine

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Choco Coconut Laddoos ~ Deepavali Special



In India the festive season has now fully bloomed into one of its most beautiful festivals ~ Deepavali also called as Diwali, the festival of lights. I am sure that preparations are in full swing in all those homes that celebrate. While a lot of people prepare almost all the sweets at home many still heavily bank on mithaiwalas (sweetmeat vendors) to provide the mithai that is so much a part of this festival. 

Although we don't celebrate this festival at home, I do try and prepare at least one sweet dish at home. It's impossible not to catch the infectious excitement that revolves around gorgeous food this season! My friends and I have been discussing about it for weeks now. 'What are you making for Diwali?' is how most of our conversations on chat begin.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Phagila Podi ~ Konkani Style Deep Fried Kantola (Indian Teasel Gourd / Spiky Gourd)


So much to do, so little time! Readers, I am just not able to find quality time to laze over my computer, debating which recipe to post next. My blog is facing intermittent outages, you may have noticed this. Its not the dearth of recipes that is to be blamed. Cooking happens in full swing on a daily basis, its just the post cooking clearing up and other sundry jobs that bring me down. On a more positive note, I am absolutely enjoying my new house, especially my kitchen. Though it is a little smallish for my taste (I love huge spaces which of course is nice if there is a full time help to clean & keep in order, haha!) I still love the fact that I have finally got the gadgets of my dreams - a full fledged oven and a nice dishwasher - every woman's best friend. I mean who wants to slave over washing an endless pile of dishes, right? For a foodie cum food blogger like me, washing dishes has become the bane of my existence heightened by the fact that a whole lot of post baking paraphernalia has to be religiously washed & put away.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rice Kheer (Rice Pudding)



Hello everyone! Here I am after a long break (over 3 weeks) from blogging. I am back - rejuvenated and almost charged to start posting some new recipes here. Three weeks ago we finally shifted to our own place from my brother's place which was our home for all these months. While I was very excited to finally start setting up my own home and settle down, there were streaks of sadness when we said goodbye to one of the most generous families I've known. My brother and his family made sure that our stay at their place was more than comfortable and we had great times together. The good part is that we live within walkable distance of each other's homes now and meet each other every weekend. I am super glad about that as now I can finally start baking big batches of goodies which can be shared with them. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Seed Cake ~ The cake that survived!


The baking bug bites me every now & then, however I somehow cannot find the luxury of time to get baking these days. This is because cake baking calls for meticulous measuring out of ingredients as that is the very premise of how a cake turns out (this is how I do it)- unlike other techniques of cooking food that allow you to adapt to your requirement. 

My stay in Mangalore saw me eat a lot of sponge cakes of all shapes & sizes from various bakeries. The typical one that I loved had caraway seeds in it. Simple yet flavourful. My dad used to make sure that he always bought me some from the erstwhile M. D'Souza & Sons bakery on Market Road.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Shepichi Baji ~ Dill Leaves Stir Fry ~ Sabsige Soppu/Shepu/Suva Bhaji


In the past four odd years of blogging I have attempted to cook and eat many many things that I probably never would have. Many meals have been consciously planned and many I have just chanced upon. Last year I had hired a lady to help me with my household chores during a couple of months before and after my delivery. She brought with her many recipes and cooking tips that helped me sharpen my cooking skills a bit. Having her around 24x7 (she was my live in domestic helper) meant loads of discussions of food from around the world, 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Welsh Cakes ~ Griddle Cakes / No Bake Cakes



A few of my recipes are going to tumble out of the closet now. Hopefully I will be able to clear a backlog of recipes that I had tried when I was in Mumbai, this being one of them. I can't believe that today marks my 5th month in Dubai. My lil baby is older and crawling all over the place, the older one is getting accustomed to his new school life schedule and well, time just flies. I have been tied down more to the home than to the hearth this time with barely any outings thanks to the baby, but I am beginning to get a little more mobile as the lil one loves her outings too and looks forward to getting all dressed up and seeing the world go by as she lazes in her pram. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Laayi Pitte Undo / Laayanso Laadu (Broken Puffed Paddy & Jaggery Balls) ~ Mangalorean Konkani Style


School has finally started! Yayy!! Last Wednesday was the first day of school for my son. First day of school in Dubai. I did not anticipate any tantrums and thankfully there were none. He is already accustomed to the hustle & bustle that comes with waking up early and getting packed off to school as he had started playschool in Mumbai at the age of 1 year and 9 months. However, he had to jump right into the daily rigmarole of school life in the gulf. The first day he woke up he said

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Post Natal Recipe - Methi Adthina (Methi Halwa) - Sweet Fenugreek Seeds & Beaten Rice Mixture


Sometimes I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day. This is only from the blog point of view - I wish I got more time to spend writing down recipes that I've tried and posting those that I have accumulated amassed in the past few months. I remember that last year this time I was anxious & eager to deliver my baby and had made a mental note of all the recipes I wanted my balnti posteli (post delivery care giver) to make for me. Like I had mentioned in my introductory post, new moms in Mangalore are given special post natal care for 40 days post delivery by specially trained (not certified though) women, homegrown nurses who look after the mother & baby. These ladies, apparently great cooks

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Watermelon Blizzard



Hey everyone! I am writing to you from a furnace. No jokes! Dubai is hot! Hotter than I expected and definitely my first tryst with the real dessert summer. We are now facing the wrath of the sun as it is the third week of August. Venturing out is not something I like to do at all, sitting in the comforts of a nice & cool house is more like it. However, its a tough choice I make everyday. Go out in the sun to get some over dose of vitamin D & an extra tan or

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mushrooms in a Chilli Cashew Gravy



A few of my recipes have been in draft for way too long. This is because I love to try out something new every day and depending on the occasion or my mood the new ones supercede the older ones. I am going to make a genuine effort to post those recipes first. So guess what kind of recipe was long due on my blog ? A vegetarian one of course! It's been ages since I posted a 'pure veg' recipe.

I had tried this recipe when I was in Mumbai, so that's a good 5-6 months ago, before the frenzy of relocating to Dubai engulfed me completely and life was still going on at a normal pace.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ponsa Gharai ~ Konkani Style Jackfruit Payasam


Yesterday during lunchtime my niece asked me to list my favourite fruits and I was in a fix. I am not as much a fruit person as I love my veggies. Give me fruits and they will sit on the table for a week. Untouched. Give me veggies and I will eat them in the place of chicken, fish or meat. I totally love my vegetables. So I had to actually rack my brains to come up with a good list of fruits that I liked to eat. I surprised myself when my niece suggested 'jackfruit?' and I said 'yes!' immediately!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tri Coloured Neer Dosa / Panpolay (Rice Crepes)


The past few days saw me debating on the kind of recipe I could introduce to celebrate the Indian Independence Day, which is today, the 15th of August. Something that would represent the colours of our Indian flag and also something that was easy to prepare, that didn't have too many ingredients and of course something that the kids would enjoy. Introducing colours in food has its limitations though, unless you are willing to use commercially available artificial food colours. Since my priority is to serve healthy & safe food to my kids at least when it is prepared at home, I had to pick between foods that are famously known for imparting the required colours to food. Carrots & spinach. You guessed it right. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Keema Green Masala


To combat a mid-week meal idea crisis I always stock up on minced (ground) meat or keema as we call it in India. While my family has varied interests when it comes to how they like to eat their meat, I am glad that we agree that keema cooked any which way is always palatable. Highly palatable. It is simply a fantastic accompaniment to Indian breads such as chapathis or pulkas or even with rice and tastes even better when cooked with rice in the form of a pulao or biryani. Little wonder then, that I have plenty of recipes on my blog that call for keema. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sheer Khurma (Milk with Dates) | Festive Vermicelli Kheer ~ Easy Recipe to Celebrate 2 Million Page Views

Before I started to type this post I told myself that I would keep it short. I will let the pictures do the talking today because I went crazy over the photo shoot. Not satisfied with those that I clicked last evening, I re did the whole shoot again this morning. It was super fun. I totally love styling & capturing food - in fond remembrance of what just went into my tummy :-)

Today's recipe is a very festive dish during Eid which Muslims all over the world celebrate this week. After observing Ramadan - a period of fasting from dawn to dusk, the faithful particularly look forward to eating this lovely dessert on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr. Sheer Kurma or Sheer Qorma literally means 'Milk with Dates' and is a dish relished for breakfast after the morning prayers are offered. I felt that this definition was apt for the recipe as it is not very sweet. The barely there sweetness makes you ask for more.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

One Minute Chocolate Mug Cake ~ It's Eggless!


Although I had heard a lot about mug cakes I was never in favour of - or rather, never considered it to be a real 'cake'. It's not that I am a baking snob. I am no genius baker and baking is still a learning process for me, yet I never gave the mug cake a chance. However, when there is a house full of kids who get ultra bored during vacations the mind of a mommy wanders in search of something fun to do - a summer holiday project that can be made & eaten in 5 minutes flat - well, yes, I am counting the prep time as well.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fish Biryani


         
Every now & then I browse through my recipe index to see the categories that I've created and the recipes that are very popular till date - many of which I have never expected to go so viral. The Chicken Curry Without Coconut is one such recipe which has received a lot of unexpected fame. However, I noticed that there are a few recipes that have gone unnoticed - they were posted much before the blog became so popular. It is one of my favourite recipes and I have made it several times over. It is my mum's sister's recipe which is simple yet delicious. I have to admit that it is not completely from scratch.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Herbed Potato & Corn Tikkis



I am always lost for ideas when it comes to drawing up a menu for kiddie parties. I prefer serving home made snacks that are not only easy to make but are also nutritious and tasty for the tiny tots. Tikkies or mini cutlets are one of those popular items on the table that every kid likes to munch on. 

Today's recipe is easy and simple in terms of process. Since corn on the cob is a staple in my house I made use of some leftover corn to some leftover boiled potatoes, threw in some grated cheese and my current favourite - dill leaves (amazing! I love it) to the mixture. If you are making it for adults you can add de seeded and finely chopped green chillies but I used pepper powder instead.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cilantro Fish ~ When Hubby Cooks!



The hardest part about blogging I guess is to take the time to actually write and collate the entire post! While cooking & clicking happens in full swing almost on a daily basis, I hardly find the time to download the pictures on my computer & then put the post together. Add to it the occasional laziness and you have weeks of absence from me. 

Before I delay it any longer, I have a nice new announcement to make - if you have already liked my Facebook page you may be knowing this already.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie

Hey everyone! Just in case you are wondering where I am - I am right here! Haven't gone into hiding. It's just that a load of things are on my plate right now, but I will tell you that in detail later. I thought I'd quickly post a simple recipe for a delicious smoothie - its so easy to put together and delicious enough to entice little ones into getting something filling and nutritious into their little tummies


I realised that smoothies are my current favourite - you can have them anytime you are hungry and trust me, they can keep you 'filled' up till your next big meal. However, what goes into a smoothie greatly determines how many calories you are putting into your body - so watch out! My rule book says - no artificial sweetners. When fruits can provide the required sweetness, there is no need for the addition of sugar. However, tiny palates are hard to please sometimes, so a little sprinkling of sugar may be required. 


The peanut butter provides the dreamy-creamy texture and taste to this smoothie which then becomes super tasty to the last drop! My little fellow loved it. I am sure yours will too!


Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie
Prep time 5 mins | Cook time: Nil | Serves 2

You Need:
  • 1-1/2 cups chilled milk * see notes
  • 2 tablespoon curds/yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 2 small ripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (optional) *see notes
Method:
Whiz all the above ingredients in a blender and serve decorated with banana slices

Notes:
1. If you wish you can use milk at room temperature especially if you are serving it to kids.
2. Use of sugar is optional, not recommended if you are health conscious. However, if you intend to use it, substitute regular white sugar with brown sugar or honey. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mocha Brownies

It's brownie time folks! 

As the years go by I realise that I am better at baking than anything else. And I am definitely better at clicking food pics and writing posts than actually cooking. The whole idea of cleaning, cutting & cooking and then doing a mountain of dishes is no longer appealing to me (it never ever appealed to me) what with two bawling babies - well, the older one is 5 now and has thrust a fresh set of challenges in front of me.



Poor eating habits that drive me up the wall coupled with an actual baby who is slowly displaying her true characteristics - well, err, the naughtier side of an erstwhile very quiet baby doll. So yes, something that is definitely calming for their poor mom is her tryst with baking. 


I was baking brownies after a long time and I quite enjoyed baking these babies. Brownies with a hint of coffee made them so wonderfully delicious and homely - I totally love the aroma of coffee and these brownies filled my kitchen and my entire house with the heady aroma of freshly brewed coffee - even the next day!


Something as rich in taste as the brownie always calls for a simple accompaniment - a glass of milk. For the next two days I only had a glass of milk during tea time instead of my usual cuppa - you can't possibly have a mug of coffee with these brownies - it would be just too much - but again this is just my opinion. But why two days you may ask! Well, the mister was travelling and I had lots of time to kill. Well, not really. I just had the baker's itch - you know that feeling when its post lunch and you are browsing through a really good book on cakes & bakes and you want to jump out of your bed (or wherever you are sitting) to go make these? That's what I call the baker's itch. 


I know who else is having the baker's itch - a reader turned friend Usha! - So dearie, I hope you get to make these soon for your babies and enjoy them too. However, since it contains a wee bit of coffee - please use your discretion as to whether you want to serve them to your kids


Mocha brownies can lift a boring glass of milk! Go make them today!


About the brownies
Enough said already. Go make them!

Mocha Brownies
Prep time: 10 mins | Bake time: 30mins | Servings 12

Ingredients:
  • 55grams/2 oz unsalted butter (at room temperature) plus extra for greasing
  • 115grams/ 4 oz plain chocolate roughly chopped
  • 175grams/6 oz brown sugar (I used dark muscovado)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder (I used Nescafe) dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water and cooled
  • 85grams plain flour (maida)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 55 grams/2 oz roughly chopped walnuts or pecans
Method:
1. Grease and line a 7 or 8" (20cms) square cake tin with baking parchment. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F.
2. In a double boiler (see notes) melt the chopped chocolate & butter. Keep aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl cream the sugar & eggs together until light & fluffy. Fold in the chocolate & butter mixture and the cooled coffee and blend well till everything is mixed. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture. Toss in the chopped nuts & fold gently. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25-30 mins or till the skewer inserted comes out clean.
4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, turn the cake over onto a wire mesh/rack and peel off the baking paper.
5. Cool completely, cut into squares & serve.

Recipe adapted from: Everyday Muffins & Bakes

Monday, December 23, 2013

Last Minute Christmas Cake

Phew! Last minute Christmas Cake is best for those in a rush...like me...I made this at the last minute before I set out on a travel and I am posting the recipe while sitting in a hotel room. I hope you are able to make it and enjoy it too. I have not cut the cake yet, can't wait for Christmas.


Have a Merry Christmas!


Last Minute Christmas Cake
Prep time: 20 mins | Bake time: 1-1/2 hours | Yield: 8 inch cake

Ingredients:
  • 350 grams mixed dried fruits * see notes
  • 80 grams / 3 oz butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Irish Cream or fresh cream for an alcohol free cake
  • 1 cup self raising flour * see notes
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon powder * see notes
  • 2 tablespoons rum * optional, see notes
Method:
1. Chop the dried fruit into as small pieces as possible and keep aside. Sift the flour and nutmeg/cinnamon powder.
2. Grease and line an 8 inch round cake tin with parchment paper and keep aside. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees C for 15 minutes.
3. In a large mixing bowl beat the sugar and butter until well mixed. Add one egg at a time and beat. Pour in the Irish cream or the fresh cream and blend. Add the sifted flour and nutmeg/cinnamon mixture and mix until well incorporated.
4. Add the chopped fruits and give it once last mix. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, smoothen the surface with a spatula and bake for 1-1/2 hours or till the skewer inserted comes out clean. The top of the cake should be nice and firm and darkish brown in colour
5. Remove and cover the pan with a piece of foil to retain all the moisture.

Notes:
1. I used a blend of tutti-fruitti, raisins, black currants, dried chunks of fruit (papaya, pineaple), dried ginger. I recommend you use a  fewer dried fruits that are not so tart/sour (like black raisins or cranberries) and more of sweeter ones like dates, figs & prunes.
2. To make your own self raising flour sift flour into a cup (1 cup = 237 ml) and then add 1-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and sift it well together.
3. You may use any spice blend of your choice if you don't like nutmeg or cinnamon. You can use all spice (a kind of spice that looks like peppercorns) or mixed spice (a blend of spices like garam masala but without the chillies/pepper and is used in the preparation of fruit cakes)
4. If you are using fresh cream instead of Irish cream due to lack of availability of the latter try adding a bit of rum or red wine for that bit of alcohol flavour.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gingerbread Men


On one of my recent shopping escapades I came across a very nice book on Christmas recipes. It had every recipe that one could possibly want to try during the festive season. While I couldn't decide which one I should try out first, this particular recipe caught my eye. I had only heard about gingerbread men. I used to be a huge fan of Enid Blyton's novels during my childhood and that lady can definitely make one salivate with her description of food. Cupcakes, muffins, scones and such to be eaten along with high tea. Pretty much the stuff that made up for a majority of her stories. I loved reading her books and they always made me hungry so I'd always run to my mum and ask her to whip me something quickly to satiate the hunger pangs. Well, since my mum never baked she made Indian equivalents of the goodies. Pancakes a.k.a dosa would appear on a plate in front of me and I would lavishly pour honey or ghee and sugar over it and wallop it down. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mincemeat Crumble Bars (Pure Vegetarian!) ~ Christmas Baking


Ho ho ho! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Almost every mall and commercial establishment here in Dubai is decked up for the season. My Christmas shopping began months ago when I started jotting down recipes to be tried this year. By early October I had finalised my menu and started trying out dishes. I am so glad I did this as my camera and laptop decided to crash in when the baking-clicking frenzy had just caught up with me. Luckily they are repaired and are back with me in the nick of time. While the duo was gone I did get some quality time to stop thinking about food and live life as a non blogger for a bit. Yes, on many occasions I contemplated using my iPhone camera to click pictures, but none satisfied me as would my trusted DSLR would. Anyway, one of the recipes I had tried out 'pre-crash' was the mincemeat crumble bars. 


I had seen this recipe a while ago and bookmarked it. However, the name was pretty misleading. If you thought this is a hardcore non vegetarian savoury dish you are wrong! This dish has nothing to do with meat! In fact, this recipe doesn't even contain eggs! Then why is it called 'mincemeat'? Well, traditionally mincemeat was a mixture of dried fruits, spices, vinegars, eggs and beef or venison meat. This was used as a pie filling and was eaten more as a dessert than as a savoury meal accompaniment. Today's mincemeat is restricted to just dried fruits, fruit peels & spices heavily soaked in rum or brandy and makes an excellent mixture to be added to rum cakes or pies. Notice that the name says 'mince meat' and not 'minceD meat'. 

Confused? So was I initially. On our several trips to the supermarket I looked for a bottle of mincemeat but could not find any, so I asked my brother and other relatives to keep an eye out just in case they found one. Everyone had a 'savoury' requirement in mind and even suggested that I should ask the local butcher if I wanted it specifically made :D Anyway, once the confusion was cleared and I found my jar of mincemeat I got to work immediately. 


These crumble bars have a crumbly shortbread base (like a butter cookie) with a sweet & tart and VERY rich mincemeat filling topped by a lovely sweet crumble with almonds. This is a perfect dessert on your Christmas menu if you really don't have time to put a proper Christmas cake together. Of course, these crumble bars don't aim to replace the cake in any way but they sure make up for your sins as they are almost like short bread cookies married to mixed dried fruit :-)

Mincemeat Crumble Bars
Recipe source: Everyday Muffins & Bakes

Prep time: 15 mins | Chilling time: 20 mins | Baking time: 35 | Yield 12 bars or 9 squares

Ingredients:
For the shortbread crust (bottom layer)

  • 140 grams / 5 oz unsalted  butter at room temperature + extra for greasing the pan
  • 85 grams/ 3 oz golden caster sugar * see note#1
  • 150 grams / 5-1/2 oz plain flour (maida)
  • 85 grams/ 3 oz cornflour (cornstarch)

For the filling (middle layer)

  • 400 grams/ 14 oz ready made mincemeat
  • icing sugar for dusting

For the topping

  • 115 grams/ 4 oz self-raising flour*see notes
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 85 grams/ 3 oz golden caster sugar
  • 25 grams/ 1oz flaked almonds *see notes

Method:
1. Grease & line a shallow 28x20 com/ 11x8 inch cake tin with baking parchment. (I simply used a 9x9 inch square tin). Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/400 F.
2. To make the bottom layer, beat the butter & sugar in a bowl till pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour, cornflour and then with your hands lightly knead the mixture together to form a ball. Press this dough into the prepared cake tin and even it out. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes. Then bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes till it is puffed & golden.
3. To make the middle layer spread the mince meant over the bottom layer.
4. To make the crumble topping, place the flour, butter, sugar in a bowl and rub together till the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the flaked almonds. and spread this mixture over the mincemeat layer. Bake in the oven for another 20-22 minutes till golden brown.
5. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool for 12-15 minutes. Run a knife through to make bars. Cool completely.
6. Dust icing sugar over the bars and serve. Store in an airtight container - it keeps well at room temperature for 3-4 days (not in hot weather though)

Notes:
1. Since I didn't have golden caster sugar I used regular white - fine granulated caster sugar. You may use regular sugar measured and then powdered in a grinder.
2. To make your own self raising flour measure out 1 cup (115 grams flour) by sifting the flour directly into the measuring cup. This way you are certain not to cram up any extra flour. Alternatively you may simply weigh the quantity on a kitchen scale. Add to it 1-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder & 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Sift all the ingredients together once again.
3. Flaked almonds are sliced almonds (without skin). Buy them ready made if they are available, otherwise simply blanch them at home - Place almonds (with skin) in a bowl and pour enough boiling water to cover them. Cover the bowl with a lid and keep for 15 minutes. The peels should come off easily. Pat them dry and thinly slice them lengthwise. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rava Laadu / Rawa Laddoo (Sweet Semolina Balls) - Christmas Goodies - Kuswar


Indian sweets - well, what do I say about them? As much as I claim that I don't have a sweet tooth, I do. Big time. I didn't have one during my growing up years but ever since I had my kids I have this undying love for Indian sweets. Laddoos top the list and I just can't seem to resist them. The best part about laddoos is that they are so versatile, from the traditional ones to the more contemporary ones, you can make them out of any ingredient. Just shape them into balls - any size and they qualify to be called a laddoo. 

While each region in India offers its own variety of favourites the boondi laddos (sweet balls made of chick pea flour droplets) and rava laddoos are by far the most pan Indian.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lemon Mascarpone Blondies


 One of the best perks of staying in Dubai is the massive array of baking ingredients that are available in most supermarkets here. Something I missed seeing in Mumbai. Yes, Crawford market in Mumbai does provide you with almost everything you need in your baking pantry but not only are most of the ingredients very pricey (since they are imported) there's also the inconvenience of going all the way to to town to purchase them. Ok, i'll kill the suspense and let you know what I am talking about. Cream cheese, mascarpone (pronounced as 'maaska-ponay'), chocolate chips, molasses, treacle - a few prized possessions that didn't come by too easily when I was in Mumbai are easily available here. So I am making the most of this opportunity and trying out as many recipes as possible that call for such ingredients. Well, yes, at my own peril. In these past few months I must have consumed a million calories thanks to these heavy duty dairy products, but I couldn't care less (well, not until I stood on the weighing scale, gulp!)


On one of my baking escapades I ended up with a lot more mascarpone cheese than the recipe asked for. Talk about not planning my groceries properly. Anyway, its a habitual thing for me - to pick up stuff on a whim, promising myself that I will turn it into something nice, getting back home with a load of groceries, putting them away and completely forgetting about them (that reminds me, I have a load of cream cheese sitting in the deli drawer of my fridge, Omigosh!). After browsing the net for a suitable recipe I came across this delicious recipe on Simply Recipes that made use of the mascarpone and lemons that were idly sitting in my fridge. By lemons I am talking about the large yellow ones which are not commonly available in India. In India we get lndian limes and lemons which are really small and maybe 2-3 of them may fit into one's palm easily. The ones available here are quite large and are perfect for desserts and cakes, the zest of which can marvelously uplift even a boring sponge cake.


Anyway, the most important story of the day is that I had a near death experience when I made these blondies. I chose to write about it just so that it serves to be a reminder to everyday cooks to be a bit more cautious in the kitchen. While I went about preheating the oven that day, I didn't realise that the gas burner for the oven (below the crumb tray) had gone off. My niece who was always alert brought it to my notice and I immediately went to open the kitchen door. Despite having exercised immediate caution, I don't know what compelled me to go right ahead, open the oven door and light the burner again. The next thing I knew was...Boom!!! I was thrown to the ground with a row of burnt hair, heart pounding like crazy and a scream that escaped my lips. This was the effect of that little gas that was trapped inside the oven that caught fire from the ignition of the gas lighter. Such a scary experience for me and the kids in the house who had been just chased out of the kitchen before my great adventure. After everyone had calmed down & I had gained my composure I made a vow that it was the last time that I was ever baking in a gas oven. Although the ceramic (smooth top/glass top) hob in my new house is painfully slow, it gives me a sense of safety every time I turn the power knob. I urge all my readers to exercise precaution before using gas ovens or any other kitchen appliance for that matter. It's never a good idea to be over smart or careless in the kitchen (or life in general).

Life is precious, so please stay safe!


Ahem! Back to the recipe now!

Blondies are just like brownies in terms of the texture. They are slightly fudgy, dense and in some cases may be chewy too. The only difference between brownies & blondies are that no cocoa or chocolate is used in the preparation of blondies. However some blondie recipes may call for chocolate chips. Cocoa or chocolate is replaced with brown sugar that gives blondies their taste and colour. They are baked in square/rectangular tins and cut into shapes before serving.

These blondies are simply melt-in-the-mouth. So decadent, so delicious and yes, rich too! But no matter how much you try to resist you won't be able to stop at one! The mascarpone cheese gives the moistness and flavour to these blondies making them so irresistible and any festive occasion definitely calls for these!


Lemon Mascarpone Blondies
Prep time: 20 mins | Bake time: 30 mins | Yield 9 blondies of 3x3" each

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (115grams) all purpose flour (maida), sifted
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (200gms) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100gms) butter, melted
  • 8 ounces (225gms) mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square tin and dust with flour. You could even line it with baking parchment.
2. Mix the melted butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the egg & vanilla extra and whisk well.
3. Add the lemon juice, zest & mascarpone cheese and mix until incorporated. Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt in parts & mix well.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin & spread the surface with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
5. Remove the tin cool it on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Then carefully invert onto the rack.
6. When completely cool cut into equal sized squares and serve.



Friday, December 6, 2013

Muffizzas (Muffin Shaped Thin Crust Pizzas Made from Chapathi Dough!)


Come Christmas or any festive season everybody is focused on making sweets - traditional or contemporary. Many a times we miss out on the preparation of savouries - especially the mini eats or snacks. I always break into a sweat when I host parties especially those for little kids who need to munch on something delicious and nutritious. I think these mini pizzas are the answer to some healthy home made snacks. They will serve well at parties for adults too as they are individual sized, made with whole wheat bases filled with delicious goodness of whatever you may fancy. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Traditional Chocolate Cake ~ Very Rich & Chocolatey!


My first attempt at making two cakes in one go and then sandwiching them together! All thanks to my new oven which is huge and can easily accommodate two cake tins side by side - a privilege I missed when I was in Mumbai. I made this cake for Baby Z's 1st Birthday, for the little celebration we had at home. I found the recipe in a lovely cookbook gifted to me by my brother just a few days before the birthday and I spent days on end flipping through its pages going crazy over which recipe I should try first. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas Recipes ~ New Picture Index!

(Click to view the Picture Index)

The best season of the year is finally here! I am completely in love with the Christmas season and the accompanying weather. It is not the first time that I am in Dubai for Christmas, but it definitely is our first Christmas in our own home here. Everybody I know has been asking how I will celebrate Christmas this year and what are the special things that I will be doing. Well, I have a few recipes that are still getting tested in my kitchen and hopefully those will make it to the blog soon - starting 1st December. Our Christmas tree will be up in the next couple of days and I can't wait to compile a list of my favourite Christmas carols & songs to bring in the cheer.

While some delicious aromas have been wafting through my kitchen door I simply couldn't resist compiling a brand new picture recipe index with all my favourite Christmas recipes! If you haven't yet noticed the tab right on top that says 'Christmas Recipes - Picture Index', then please click on this collage I have created. It will take you to the new index that will help you decide your menu for this Christmas.

As the days roll by I will be updating this index with new & old recipes alike - those that are popularly voted by my readers to be included in the list. I would love to have your feedback and also know how this index has helped you (if it has). If you have any tips or suggestions or just want to say hello, please mail me on ruchikrandhap@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Poori Saagu ~ Karnataka Style Mixed Vegetable Curry with Wholewheat Flat Bread

Now that we have settled down in our own home I have started trying out dishes, the recipes of which have been bookmarked ages ago. Last year when I had a temporary help hired during my delivery I had the opportunity to taste some Karnataka style food which I thoroughly enjoyed. Poori Saagu was one such dish which was prepared many times for breakfast. Although all of us at home enjoy eating piping hot pooris with any accompaniment I don't make them often due to the fact that it is not the healthiest because of the deep frying that is involved. I limit deep fried food to once in 2-3 months and when I do make it, we indulge. To make it healthier I prepare pooris with whole wheat flour (which is like the norm these days) to all purpose flour/maida.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pumpkin Pasta - Homemade Baby Food (For Babies Aged 9 months & Above)



A couple of weeks ago our little baby girl turned One! Yes, time really flies and she is 1 already. We ushered in her first birthday with a little celebration with close family & friends and what a fun day it was! She was lucky to cut two birthday cakes on two different days and shortly I will post the recipe of one of the cakes - the other one was prepared by my aunt.

For now, in Baby Z's honour I will start posting a few recipes for homemade baby food that I have collected since the past few months but never got time to post. These recipes are suitable for babies that are 6 months & above, but the posting will be done in no particular order. I think these recipes will benefit many moms to plan meal menus for their babies. However, please note that these are my own experiments at creating something nutritious, fun & delicious for my baby. These are recipe ideas that have worked for me so please use them only as a reference. The nutritional needs of babies vary and the right advice can only be given by the baby's doctor, so kindly use your discretion and medical advice before trying out any of these recipes.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mutton Chops Curry - When the hubby cooks!


My love affair with mutton started after I had moved to Mumbai. We used to get the best quality meat there. Well, to get the facts right, what we popularly get in most parts of India is goat meat and not lamb. ('bokdi' & 'bokro' will probably put the whole confusion to rest). Personally Roshan & I prefer goat meat to lamb as the latter has a stronger aftertaste of grass fed meat. Goat meat on the other hand has more rustic flavours and an aroma that makes you want to dive into the pot of simmering curry and wallop it down. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Simple & Easy Rava Mutli (Mildly Sweet & Savoury Rice Dumplings)


Breakfast - the most important meal of the day is also my favourite part of day. I fancy good breakfasts and I guess if my day has started off early I don't mind slaving over dishing out a good hearty breakfast. South Indian breakfasts always score above the rest in my house, but then they are also tedious to make from scratch. Long hours of soaking, grinding, fermenting, frying/steaming are part of almost every kind of breakfast item that gets devoured in minutes. So yes, sometimes it is pretty discouraging to even dive into this process. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Baked Portobello Mushrooms - When the Hubby Cooks!

Above pic: The egg looks raw, but don't be fooled! It is completely and firmly baked requiring a knife and fork to cut through!

In the midst of a busy week the husband promised to surprise me with something delicious. I had seen some portobello mushrooms lying in the fridge and I guessed that it would be something to do with baking them as he had tried sometime ago in Mumbai. However, I was totally bowled over by the presentation of this amazingly delicious dish. The egg in the centre looked so wonderful and timeless because it remained just the same before and after baking.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ash-e-Mast (Yogurt Soup with Meatballs - Persian Style)


The best two months of the year in my opinion are November & December and we are already there! Best because of the holiday season that is just around the corner. Having grown up in India, winter was not really much of a winter but greatly welcomed. Walking to school in a somewhat chilly weather as Mangalore's standards was such a joy for me at least. I experienced better winters in Bangalore when I was working there 10 years ago and although I didn't enjoy it so much as I hate cold weather. Riding the two wheeler was such a pain because I had to be completely packed in cold weather apparel, have my ears covered & what not. Anyway, this is nothing compared to what some of you face in those parts of the world that receive extreme weather including snow storms & the works. So let me quit complaining.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Panchakajjaya



Indians all across the world celebrate Deepavali today. Lighting lamps, offering prayers, preparing sweets & snacks, visiting people, bursting crackers and having a great deal of fun. Public places and commercial establishments are also decked up greet this beautiful festival of lights. 

During my childhood in Mangalore, our kind and generous neighbours used to send over a 'thali' (serving plate) filled with Deepavali sweets & savouries - pedas, kaju katlis, boondi laddoo, rava laddoo, mysore pak, kara sev, chakli & tukdi. A small portion of the day's neivedyam (offering to gods) was also sent along so I vaguely remember its taste and definitely remember that I enjoyed it along with every goodie on the platter. 

Today's recipe is a pretty popular one in South India.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Matar Potli Samosa (Deep Fried Pastry Pouches Stuffed with Spicy Green Peas)


Another special treat for you to enjoy this Diwali. Matar Potli or Potli Samosa is an interesting variation to the usual samosa. The difference being the outer casing of this samosa which is in the shape of a 'potli' or a money pouch that is so common all over India. I know a lot of grandmas who still have some moolah safely stashed away in an innocent looking purse made out of cloth. The more fancy and decorative ones are part of ethnic wear too. I have a couple which I sport when I am all decked up in a saree or a chudidar kameez.
When I recently came across this recipe in a weekly news magazine

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Choco Coconut Laddoos ~ Deepavali Special



In India the festive season has now fully bloomed into one of its most beautiful festivals ~ Deepavali also called as Diwali, the festival of lights. I am sure that preparations are in full swing in all those homes that celebrate. While a lot of people prepare almost all the sweets at home many still heavily bank on mithaiwalas (sweetmeat vendors) to provide the mithai that is so much a part of this festival. 

Although we don't celebrate this festival at home, I do try and prepare at least one sweet dish at home. It's impossible not to catch the infectious excitement that revolves around gorgeous food this season! My friends and I have been discussing about it for weeks now. 'What are you making for Diwali?' is how most of our conversations on chat begin.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Phagila Podi ~ Konkani Style Deep Fried Kantola (Indian Teasel Gourd / Spiky Gourd)


So much to do, so little time! Readers, I am just not able to find quality time to laze over my computer, debating which recipe to post next. My blog is facing intermittent outages, you may have noticed this. Its not the dearth of recipes that is to be blamed. Cooking happens in full swing on a daily basis, its just the post cooking clearing up and other sundry jobs that bring me down. On a more positive note, I am absolutely enjoying my new house, especially my kitchen. Though it is a little smallish for my taste (I love huge spaces which of course is nice if there is a full time help to clean & keep in order, haha!) I still love the fact that I have finally got the gadgets of my dreams - a full fledged oven and a nice dishwasher - every woman's best friend. I mean who wants to slave over washing an endless pile of dishes, right? For a foodie cum food blogger like me, washing dishes has become the bane of my existence heightened by the fact that a whole lot of post baking paraphernalia has to be religiously washed & put away.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rice Kheer (Rice Pudding)



Hello everyone! Here I am after a long break (over 3 weeks) from blogging. I am back - rejuvenated and almost charged to start posting some new recipes here. Three weeks ago we finally shifted to our own place from my brother's place which was our home for all these months. While I was very excited to finally start setting up my own home and settle down, there were streaks of sadness when we said goodbye to one of the most generous families I've known. My brother and his family made sure that our stay at their place was more than comfortable and we had great times together. The good part is that we live within walkable distance of each other's homes now and meet each other every weekend. I am super glad about that as now I can finally start baking big batches of goodies which can be shared with them. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Seed Cake ~ The cake that survived!


The baking bug bites me every now & then, however I somehow cannot find the luxury of time to get baking these days. This is because cake baking calls for meticulous measuring out of ingredients as that is the very premise of how a cake turns out (this is how I do it)- unlike other techniques of cooking food that allow you to adapt to your requirement. 

My stay in Mangalore saw me eat a lot of sponge cakes of all shapes & sizes from various bakeries. The typical one that I loved had caraway seeds in it. Simple yet flavourful. My dad used to make sure that he always bought me some from the erstwhile M. D'Souza & Sons bakery on Market Road.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Shepichi Baji ~ Dill Leaves Stir Fry ~ Sabsige Soppu/Shepu/Suva Bhaji


In the past four odd years of blogging I have attempted to cook and eat many many things that I probably never would have. Many meals have been consciously planned and many I have just chanced upon. Last year I had hired a lady to help me with my household chores during a couple of months before and after my delivery. She brought with her many recipes and cooking tips that helped me sharpen my cooking skills a bit. Having her around 24x7 (she was my live in domestic helper) meant loads of discussions of food from around the world, 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Welsh Cakes ~ Griddle Cakes / No Bake Cakes



A few of my recipes are going to tumble out of the closet now. Hopefully I will be able to clear a backlog of recipes that I had tried when I was in Mumbai, this being one of them. I can't believe that today marks my 5th month in Dubai. My lil baby is older and crawling all over the place, the older one is getting accustomed to his new school life schedule and well, time just flies. I have been tied down more to the home than to the hearth this time with barely any outings thanks to the baby, but I am beginning to get a little more mobile as the lil one loves her outings too and looks forward to getting all dressed up and seeing the world go by as she lazes in her pram. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Laayi Pitte Undo / Laayanso Laadu (Broken Puffed Paddy & Jaggery Balls) ~ Mangalorean Konkani Style


School has finally started! Yayy!! Last Wednesday was the first day of school for my son. First day of school in Dubai. I did not anticipate any tantrums and thankfully there were none. He is already accustomed to the hustle & bustle that comes with waking up early and getting packed off to school as he had started playschool in Mumbai at the age of 1 year and 9 months. However, he had to jump right into the daily rigmarole of school life in the gulf. The first day he woke up he said

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Post Natal Recipe - Methi Adthina (Methi Halwa) - Sweet Fenugreek Seeds & Beaten Rice Mixture


Sometimes I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day. This is only from the blog point of view - I wish I got more time to spend writing down recipes that I've tried and posting those that I have accumulated amassed in the past few months. I remember that last year this time I was anxious & eager to deliver my baby and had made a mental note of all the recipes I wanted my balnti posteli (post delivery care giver) to make for me. Like I had mentioned in my introductory post, new moms in Mangalore are given special post natal care for 40 days post delivery by specially trained (not certified though) women, homegrown nurses who look after the mother & baby. These ladies, apparently great cooks

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Watermelon Blizzard



Hey everyone! I am writing to you from a furnace. No jokes! Dubai is hot! Hotter than I expected and definitely my first tryst with the real dessert summer. We are now facing the wrath of the sun as it is the third week of August. Venturing out is not something I like to do at all, sitting in the comforts of a nice & cool house is more like it. However, its a tough choice I make everyday. Go out in the sun to get some over dose of vitamin D & an extra tan or

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mushrooms in a Chilli Cashew Gravy



A few of my recipes have been in draft for way too long. This is because I love to try out something new every day and depending on the occasion or my mood the new ones supercede the older ones. I am going to make a genuine effort to post those recipes first. So guess what kind of recipe was long due on my blog ? A vegetarian one of course! It's been ages since I posted a 'pure veg' recipe.

I had tried this recipe when I was in Mumbai, so that's a good 5-6 months ago, before the frenzy of relocating to Dubai engulfed me completely and life was still going on at a normal pace.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ponsa Gharai ~ Konkani Style Jackfruit Payasam


Yesterday during lunchtime my niece asked me to list my favourite fruits and I was in a fix. I am not as much a fruit person as I love my veggies. Give me fruits and they will sit on the table for a week. Untouched. Give me veggies and I will eat them in the place of chicken, fish or meat. I totally love my vegetables. So I had to actually rack my brains to come up with a good list of fruits that I liked to eat. I surprised myself when my niece suggested 'jackfruit?' and I said 'yes!' immediately!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tri Coloured Neer Dosa / Panpolay (Rice Crepes)


The past few days saw me debating on the kind of recipe I could introduce to celebrate the Indian Independence Day, which is today, the 15th of August. Something that would represent the colours of our Indian flag and also something that was easy to prepare, that didn't have too many ingredients and of course something that the kids would enjoy. Introducing colours in food has its limitations though, unless you are willing to use commercially available artificial food colours. Since my priority is to serve healthy & safe food to my kids at least when it is prepared at home, I had to pick between foods that are famously known for imparting the required colours to food. Carrots & spinach. You guessed it right. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Keema Green Masala


To combat a mid-week meal idea crisis I always stock up on minced (ground) meat or keema as we call it in India. While my family has varied interests when it comes to how they like to eat their meat, I am glad that we agree that keema cooked any which way is always palatable. Highly palatable. It is simply a fantastic accompaniment to Indian breads such as chapathis or pulkas or even with rice and tastes even better when cooked with rice in the form of a pulao or biryani. Little wonder then, that I have plenty of recipes on my blog that call for keema. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sheer Khurma (Milk with Dates) | Festive Vermicelli Kheer ~ Easy Recipe to Celebrate 2 Million Page Views

Before I started to type this post I told myself that I would keep it short. I will let the pictures do the talking today because I went crazy over the photo shoot. Not satisfied with those that I clicked last evening, I re did the whole shoot again this morning. It was super fun. I totally love styling & capturing food - in fond remembrance of what just went into my tummy :-)

Today's recipe is a very festive dish during Eid which Muslims all over the world celebrate this week. After observing Ramadan - a period of fasting from dawn to dusk, the faithful particularly look forward to eating this lovely dessert on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr. Sheer Kurma or Sheer Qorma literally means 'Milk with Dates' and is a dish relished for breakfast after the morning prayers are offered. I felt that this definition was apt for the recipe as it is not very sweet. The barely there sweetness makes you ask for more.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

One Minute Chocolate Mug Cake ~ It's Eggless!


Although I had heard a lot about mug cakes I was never in favour of - or rather, never considered it to be a real 'cake'. It's not that I am a baking snob. I am no genius baker and baking is still a learning process for me, yet I never gave the mug cake a chance. However, when there is a house full of kids who get ultra bored during vacations the mind of a mommy wanders in search of something fun to do - a summer holiday project that can be made & eaten in 5 minutes flat - well, yes, I am counting the prep time as well.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fish Biryani


         
Every now & then I browse through my recipe index to see the categories that I've created and the recipes that are very popular till date - many of which I have never expected to go so viral. The Chicken Curry Without Coconut is one such recipe which has received a lot of unexpected fame. However, I noticed that there are a few recipes that have gone unnoticed - they were posted much before the blog became so popular. It is one of my favourite recipes and I have made it several times over. It is my mum's sister's recipe which is simple yet delicious. I have to admit that it is not completely from scratch.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Herbed Potato & Corn Tikkis



I am always lost for ideas when it comes to drawing up a menu for kiddie parties. I prefer serving home made snacks that are not only easy to make but are also nutritious and tasty for the tiny tots. Tikkies or mini cutlets are one of those popular items on the table that every kid likes to munch on. 

Today's recipe is easy and simple in terms of process. Since corn on the cob is a staple in my house I made use of some leftover corn to some leftover boiled potatoes, threw in some grated cheese and my current favourite - dill leaves (amazing! I love it) to the mixture. If you are making it for adults you can add de seeded and finely chopped green chillies but I used pepper powder instead.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cilantro Fish ~ When Hubby Cooks!



The hardest part about blogging I guess is to take the time to actually write and collate the entire post! While cooking & clicking happens in full swing almost on a daily basis, I hardly find the time to download the pictures on my computer & then put the post together. Add to it the occasional laziness and you have weeks of absence from me. 

Before I delay it any longer, I have a nice new announcement to make - if you have already liked my Facebook page you may be knowing this already.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie

Hey everyone! Just in case you are wondering where I am - I am right here! Haven't gone into hiding. It's just that a load of things are on my plate right now, but I will tell you that in detail later. I thought I'd quickly post a simple recipe for a delicious smoothie - its so easy to put together and delicious enough to entice little ones into getting something filling and nutritious into their little tummies


I realised that smoothies are my current favourite - you can have them anytime you are hungry and trust me, they can keep you 'filled' up till your next big meal. However, what goes into a smoothie greatly determines how many calories you are putting into your body - so watch out! My rule book says - no artificial sweetners. When fruits can provide the required sweetness, there is no need for the addition of sugar. However, tiny palates are hard to please sometimes, so a little sprinkling of sugar may be required. 


The peanut butter provides the dreamy-creamy texture and taste to this smoothie which then becomes super tasty to the last drop! My little fellow loved it. I am sure yours will too!


Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie
Prep time 5 mins | Cook time: Nil | Serves 2

You Need:
  • 1-1/2 cups chilled milk * see notes
  • 2 tablespoon curds/yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 2 small ripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (optional) *see notes
Method:
Whiz all the above ingredients in a blender and serve decorated with banana slices

Notes:
1. If you wish you can use milk at room temperature especially if you are serving it to kids.
2. Use of sugar is optional, not recommended if you are health conscious. However, if you intend to use it, substitute regular white sugar with brown sugar or honey. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mocha Brownies

It's brownie time folks! 

As the years go by I realise that I am better at baking than anything else. And I am definitely better at clicking food pics and writing posts than actually cooking. The whole idea of cleaning, cutting & cooking and then doing a mountain of dishes is no longer appealing to me (it never ever appealed to me) what with two bawling babies - well, the older one is 5 now and has thrust a fresh set of challenges in front of me.



Poor eating habits that drive me up the wall coupled with an actual baby who is slowly displaying her true characteristics - well, err, the naughtier side of an erstwhile very quiet baby doll. So yes, something that is definitely calming for their poor mom is her tryst with baking. 


I was baking brownies after a long time and I quite enjoyed baking these babies. Brownies with a hint of coffee made them so wonderfully delicious and homely - I totally love the aroma of coffee and these brownies filled my kitchen and my entire house with the heady aroma of freshly brewed coffee - even the next day!


Something as rich in taste as the brownie always calls for a simple accompaniment - a glass of milk. For the next two days I only had a glass of milk during tea time instead of my usual cuppa - you can't possibly have a mug of coffee with these brownies - it would be just too much - but again this is just my opinion. But why two days you may ask! Well, the mister was travelling and I had lots of time to kill. Well, not really. I just had the baker's itch - you know that feeling when its post lunch and you are browsing through a really good book on cakes & bakes and you want to jump out of your bed (or wherever you are sitting) to go make these? That's what I call the baker's itch. 


I know who else is having the baker's itch - a reader turned friend Usha! - So dearie, I hope you get to make these soon for your babies and enjoy them too. However, since it contains a wee bit of coffee - please use your discretion as to whether you want to serve them to your kids


Mocha brownies can lift a boring glass of milk! Go make them today!


About the brownies
Enough said already. Go make them!

Mocha Brownies
Prep time: 10 mins | Bake time: 30mins | Servings 12

Ingredients:
  • 55grams/2 oz unsalted butter (at room temperature) plus extra for greasing
  • 115grams/ 4 oz plain chocolate roughly chopped
  • 175grams/6 oz brown sugar (I used dark muscovado)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder (I used Nescafe) dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water and cooled
  • 85grams plain flour (maida)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 55 grams/2 oz roughly chopped walnuts or pecans
Method:
1. Grease and line a 7 or 8" (20cms) square cake tin with baking parchment. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F.
2. In a double boiler (see notes) melt the chopped chocolate & butter. Keep aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl cream the sugar & eggs together until light & fluffy. Fold in the chocolate & butter mixture and the cooled coffee and blend well till everything is mixed. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture. Toss in the chopped nuts & fold gently. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25-30 mins or till the skewer inserted comes out clean.
4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, turn the cake over onto a wire mesh/rack and peel off the baking paper.
5. Cool completely, cut into squares & serve.

Recipe adapted from: Everyday Muffins & Bakes