Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Cake

Merry Christmas to all of you !
May this festive season bring peace, happiness and love in your lives...

Christmas cake

I baked my first Christmas cake thanks to Nags, who posted this link, and Swapna who posted this very detailed recipe for a delicious Christmas cake

I took the picture above in a real rush before our friends came over for a Christmas eve dinner...The cake was moist and tasted really awesome, and the picture doesn't do any justice to how good this cake was !

cake slice

Update : This picture was taken the next day, when we had some cake and tea at leisure...
The soaked steamed fruits made the cake really rich and the rum in it made it quite heady :)

We had a small Christmas tree, with some lights around it and stockings with gifts for the kids... They were so excited and waited till midnight to see Santa...Of course, we sneaked in and put in the gifts...
Its lovely at this age they are at, when they truly believed that Santa came in thru the window with gifts for them...
Christmas isn't really big here in Ahmedabad, but we wanted the kids to understand and appreciate the celebration of all faiths

I followed her recipe exactly as given, so am not posting it here again. Here's the link to her Christmas cake

Sending this to "Jingle all the way", event hosted upto 31st December

Have a wonderful Christmas !

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Paneer, Babycorn Stir fry with Kasuri Methi

I've always liked cooking, though before I was married, it was just an occasional fancy sounding dish, once in a while and I'd never bothered with the basics like roti, dal, sabji...
After I got married, with both of us working really long hours and fairly far from home, we lived off Maggi(instant noodles), omelettes, bread, butter and jam and invariably landed up at Ma's place for dinner and ate out on weekends !


The regular LPG cylinder used for cooking, which lasts about 28-30 days now, lasted for about 11 months, so you get the idea !! I think we had a party when it finally got over, and we got the cylinder replacement :)

Over the years, I got more interested in trying out various cuisines and only after starting my blog, did I really attempt baking and trying out dishes that I hadn't even heard of before
I tend to rely on blogs more than cookbooks, when I am trying out something for the first time. There is so much information on how to go about the dish, the potential mistakes, substituting local ingredients and of course, the fact that these recipes are tried, tested and tasted !

This is one really simple, quick dish that also looks pretty because of the colours of the vegetables used. The main ingredient that contributes to the flavour here is kasuri methi / qasuri methi, which is dried fenugreek leaves. They have a bitter taste and a characteristic smell. Used in small quantity, these leaves enhance the flavour of any dish...
Here it is used with cottage cheese / paneer and baby corn, which on their own, really do not have any distinct taste or smell

I hope to put up more recipes which are simple to make and something that new cooks can easily make...

Paneer, baby corn with kasuri methi

What you need -

10-12 baby corns
150 gms cottage cheese / paneer (10-12 long slices)
2 onions
2 medium size tomatoes
1 green bell pepper / capsicum
1 yellow bell pepper (feel free to use any coloured pepper instead)
1 tbsp kasuri methi
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp amchur powder
1 tsp sliced garlic
coriander leaves to garnish

What you do with it -

Cut the baby corn into half and then slice into 4 lengthwise
Blanch in salted water for 7-8 mins or put them in the microwave for about 3-4 mins
This is important because baby corn doesn't cook as fast as the other vegetables used here
If the paneer is frozen, allow to thaw and then cut into long slices. Heat water and then put the paneer pieces in it and simmer for 3-4 mins and keep covered
If the paneer is fresh, just dip in hot water for 2-3 mins
Cut the peppers, tomatoes and onions lengthwise
In a pan, heat oil and then add cumin seeds and kasuri methi
Add the sliced garlic and fry for 2 mins, then add the onions and peppers and saute till the onions become translucent
Add the baby corn, cumin powder, chilli powder, amchur powder and salt
Add the tomatoes and paneer and saute on high heat for 2 mins
Lower the flame and cover for 2 mins and take it off the heat
Garnish with coriander leaves and sprinkle some lemon juice over it
Serve hot with rotis

Friday, December 16, 2011

No-Knead Multigrain Bread

With me, the baking attack always seems to strike in the cooler months and late in the evenings ! Its like a recipe for disaster with the yeast, and I have had some very disastrous bakes, but I don't give up very easily and I tried baking this bread at about 6 in the evening in winter! Thanks to the wonderful instant yeast and to this brilliant recipe by Suma of Cakes and More, I landed up with a really nice loaf of bread !

multigrain bread

Big thanks to Sayantani too, who was sweet enough to let me know that she had tried this brand of instant yeast and that it worked really well, no proofing and it made the dough rise, in any weather condition ! I had my mom pick it up for me in Bangalore and send it across to Ahmedabad !
The process of baking bread takes a minimum of 3-4 hours, but this was really fast. Start to finish in less than 2 hours, which I think is great by bread baking standards !

multigrain bread

I had picked up this multigrain flour by Pilsbury, which contains whole wheat, soy, oats, maize, raagi (finger millet), chana dal(bengal gram) and barley. I use it to make my rotis at home, and was very keen to try making bread with this flour. The temperature here has dropped quite a bit now and I started the process at about 6 in the evening,so I was really nervous if it would rise at all, but it turned out really well. Suma says that this bread doesn't really rise too much and I did use a largish loaf pan, so it was a flat, short bread, but tasted very healthy !

To add to the health quotient, I also threw in some sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and sesame seeds into the dough

Warmed this the next morning and had it with some orange marmalade and a cup of hot tea - perfect breakfast for a cold morning

Suma's directions are very precise and I tried to stick to it as much as I could, but had a few changes. Check here for her recipe

Sending this to Yeastspotting, Susan's weekly event for yeast breads

Multigrain Bread

What you need -

1 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tbsp oil (I used sunflower oil)
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp maple syrup (Use 2 tbsp of honey instead)
2 tbsp mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax and sesame)
2 tsp instant yeast (I used Gloripan)
1 tsp salt
3 cups multigrain flour
3-4 tbsp water (if required)

What you do with it -

I used a 9 x 5 loaf pan, but a slightly smaller one should work better
Line with pan with parchment paper and grease really well
In a deep bowl, mix together the honey, yeast, warm milk, orange juice and the oil
To this, add the flour and salt and mix well using a hand mixer for 3 minutes
Add the seeds and mix well once more
Add the water, a spoon at a time, to make this dough really sticky and wet
Transfer the dough to the greased pan. Grease you hands with some oil and then smooth the top of the dough
Cover with a greased cling film wrap. Allow the dough to rise to the rim of the pan
This took about 45 mins
Pre-heat the oven to 180 C and bake for 45 mins
Allow to cool completely and then slice
Again, as she mentions, this is not a very high rising bread and since my loaf pan was bigger than the prescribed size, it did turn out quite short and flat

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Moroccan chickpea soup with harissa

Winter has finally set in, in my part of the world !
It was really sunny and hot till the weekend, but on Sunday the temperatures really dropped...My little one heads off to school really early in the morning and we now have to bundle him up in his woollens...The days are pretty warm, but the evenings get really chill


Made Moroccan chickpea soup with harissa and some thyme roasted potatoes to go with it, for dinner last night
There's this lovely restaurant for Mediterranean food here in Ahmedabad called Souq, which we have been frequenting regularly since they opened. Had this chickpea soup here for the first time and loved it - everything on their menu is really really good !

Last month I was in Bombay for a few days and on one of our shopping sprees, my cousins and I landed up in Moshe's thrice in one day ! Its a lovely cafe, that serves Mediterranean and some super awesome desserts !! We first went to the one that's in the Fab India store at Kalaghoda. While one cousin was helping an uncle with his shopping, the other one and I chatted endlessly about food ! We then ran up to the Moshe's there and picked up some kiwi and green apple jam and a bottle of harissa...
We went to another Moshe's for lunch and the third for dessert after our shopping had drained us out and we needed the sugar rush to keep us going !

Harissa is a hot chilli paste, popular in North African cooking. Add it to pasta, soup, couscous to make a spicy tasty difference. This can be made at home
With this store bought harissa on hand, I decided on the chickpea soup with harissa. Got the recipe from OneTribeGourmet, a blog that's a visual treat !

Moroccan Chickpea soup with harissa

Recipe Source - One Tribe Gourmet

What you need -

1 cup cooked chickpeas / kabuli chana / garbanzo beans
3 cups of stock (I used the liquid from cooking the chickpeas)
1 small onion
5-6 cloves garlic
2 tomatoes / 6-8 ripe cherry tomatoes
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1/2 tsp roasted and powdered cumin seeds
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp black pepper powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp harissa sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro / coriander leaves

What you do with it -

Soak the chickpeas overnight in a pot of water and then cook in pressure cooker / stove top
Drain and reserve the water
Chop the onion, garlic and tomatoes
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a deep pan
Add the garlic and onion and saute until translucent
Add the cumin powder, saffron threads, salt, pepper and chili powder
Saute for 2 mins and then add the tomatoes
Add the cooked chickpeas along with the stock or the water the chickpeas were cooked in
Mix well and cover and allow to simmer for about half an hour
Add chopped coriander lemon juice and let it simmer for 10 more minutes
Use a hand held blender to pulverize the chickpeas but don't mash it up completely
Spoon into the soup bowls and garnish with coriander leaves, lemon wedges, a spoon on olive oil and a tsp of harissa sauce
Serve hot !

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bhubhus Roti / Sweet puri / Mangalore buns

TH loves anything sweet and these are a favourite. Its called Bhubhus roti in Konkani and famous as buns in Mangalore. Its more like a sweet banana-flavoured puri. I've made these after ages, though everytime there is an overripe banana, TH suggests I make these !
Yesterday, I finally gave in and made these and he really enjoyed them, along with our son, who has inherited his sweet tooth !


Surprisingly, banana happens to be optional in the original recipe, though I can't imagine these without that lovely banana flavour. This recipe if from Rasachandrika, the complete Saraswat cookery book...This book was gifted to me when I got married and I have really used it so much over the years - if you'd like to try cooking authentic Konkani food at home, this one is extremely useful...


Bhubhus Roti

Recipe Source - Rasachandrika

What you need

1 overripe banana
2 cups maida / all purpose flour
1/2 cup curd
1/2 cup powdered sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
oil for deep frying

What you do with it

Mash the banana. Add the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda
Then add ghee and curds and mix well
The dough gets very sticky, but that's how its supposed to be
Cover it and set aside for an hour (I left mine for 4 hours)
Divide the dough into small balls and roll out the dough into a small thick round
Heat oil in a deep pan and deep fry the puris till golden brown
These can be made and stored in an air-tight box for about 4-5 days


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