Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mango chutney / Aam ki launji

This mango chutney was accidental. It was originally intended to be chunda or chundo, the famous Gujarati sweet and spicy mango preserve. My friend had given me a bottle of it a couple of months back and I had with theplas and khakras and it was over in a week !
This time I told her I would join her in making this. This is made in summer since it needs to be kept out in the hot sun for a couple of days, and for our luck, just when we decided to start our chunda project, it got all cloudy and rainy...

mango chutney

I had bought the Rajapuri mangoes that are used specially for chunda, but by the time the sun was out again, the mangoes had ripened. It was quite disappointing, but my friend suggested making launji instead, a sweet and spicy chutney. This is her grandma's recipe.

The chutney turned out really tangy, a little sweet, a little spicy in each bite. I loved this one and its so much easier than the chunda ! Had this with ajwain parathas, and the combination was finger-licking good !

Mango chutney

What you need -

1 cup chopped mango (what I used was ripe, but not too ripe)
2-3 tbsp sugar (adjust as per the sweetness of the mango)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek / methi seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds / saunf
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 red chillies broken in half
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1 tbsp oil

What you do with it -

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan.
Add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the saunf, red chillies and then the methi seeds, in that order.
Add the mango pieces with the turmeric and salt. Cover and cook for about 5-6 mins
Add the sugar, chilli powder and 2 tbsp water and then keep on a low flame for about 8-10 mins, till it thickens up
Allow it to cool completely and then store in a jar
Serve with hot parathas

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Marble cupcakes

School started up here a couple of weeks back, after the two month long vacation. The little kids are just about getting back into the routine. Last Friday, they had the day off and my son and two of his friends were home, watching tv and playing some fun games. Their mom came over too and we decided to order out and just spend time chatting away. I wanted to make something for the kids and since cupcakes are always such a favourite, I decided to make some.

marble cupcakes

I've always had a fascination for marble cakes. During my college days, we would have birthday treats at this popular restaurant called Casa Piccola in Bangalore, and would order a single serving of marble cake, light a candle over it, sing loudly to embarrass the birthday girl, divide that little piece among ourselves and giggle endlessly over every little thing. Those were seriously such fun times... Unfortunately, that branch of Casa Piccola has shut down, though our memories of that place will remain for a long time to come


The cupcakes were spongy and soft and the marbled effect was a winner with the kids.
They loved it and were fascinated with "two colours" in one cupcake ! My friend's son said it was the best cupcake ever and my son said I should make these everyday ! It always feels so good to get feedback like this from these little boys and I am sure I will be making it again, soon enough

Sending this to Lets Cook #16 - Kids special at Tickling Palates

Marble Cupcakes
Adapted from Baking Bites

What you need -

1 cup maida / APF
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil (I used safflower)
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp grated chocolate (I used Morde dark compound)

What you do with it -

Place the grated chocolate in a small bowl and then hold it over a big bowl of boiling water. Mix continuously till the chocolate melts completely. Remove from heat and keep aside
Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease 6 moulds of a muffin pan with cupcake liners
This should make 8-10 cupcakes, but I used the remaining batter in a 4" round cake pan to make a small marble cake
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, yoghurt and vanilla extract
Add in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined
From this batter, take one cup and add it to the melted chocolate
Take one large spoonful of the vanilla batter and pour it into the cupcake liner. Top it with a spoonful of the chocolate batter. Do this for the remaining cupcake liners. then take a fork and swirl it around once in each
Bake for about 15-18 minutes at 180 C, until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Allow to cool for 2-3 mins and serve

Monday, June 25, 2012

eBook Review - 60 great recipes for your baby by Roma Sharma

All you new mothers out there - Ever wondered what to feed your baby ? Has the baby eaten enough ? How your baby will react to certain food ? Is your baby really full ? Are you doing the right thing with your baby's nutrition needs ?

I've been through this phase years back when my boy was little. Luckily, my mother helped out a lot and my baby had a good, nutritious beginning. He was introduced to all vegetables and fruits by the time we was 18 months old and now thankfully, he is a non-fussy eater. And that is a huge blessing !

If you are in doubt and wondered if those grandma recipe are still relevant, and if you always wanted those nutrition facts alongside, this e-book by Roma Sharma, is what you're looking for.

cover_ebook (1)

Roma is an active food blogger and blogs at Roma's Space and has written this book on baby food recipes, based on her personal experience with her two little girls

Of course every child is unique and has her own set of likes and dislikes, so you can't really have standard recipes that work for all babies, but luckily in this book, there are a lot of options available

She starts with explaining the benefits of breast-feeding and how it helps the mother and the baby, without sounding preachy. Its got what your baby needs at each stage categorised into different phases: 6-7 months, 8-9 months, 10-12 months and 12 months upwards. Since this is the age where the baby develops the fastest, it is also critical that you give the relevant type of food at each stage.

What I liked in this book, is that the recipes are from the North and South of India. Every family tends to stick to what they have followed for generations and sometimes, miss out on what's followed locally, based on the climate and local produce.
She has simple recipes for soups, juices, porridges and finger foods for different stages of their growth.
Small notes on what to include and what to avoid are particularly useful. Little pictures accompanying it make the reading more pleasant

Also, its not just a book with recipes, its a little guide on how to deal with fussy eaters, what feeding equipment to use, how to deal with teething problems, etc...
It handles how you should introduce new food to your little one and how to check for any allergic reaction to that particular food.
She also talks about the home remedies for problems like constipation, cough and cold and stomach upsets which babies face more often that you'd like them to. Invariably, these problem crop up in the middle of the night and they can drive you crazy with their non-stop crying. I am talking from experience here !
The other neat part here is travel food for babies, which I think is one huge task that sometimes makes families forgo travel plans for the first couple of years !

I have always believed that home made baby food is really what helps babies the most, and in spite of our nuclear families, hectic work schedules and availability of packaged baby food, I think we owe our little ones this much.
My son was raised on home made baby food for the first one and half years, with most of the vegetables and fruits included, all made interesting enough for him to enjoy.

I have friends and cousins who have little ones, calling up to find out what they should feed the baby, how do they start on it, what about food-allergies and all those queries that new moms always have...

I would recommend this e-book by Roma for young mothers. It has been categorised well and has a simple style of writing. It has recipes that mothers and grandmothers have passed down plus what has worked with her kids, all documented well. It has simple recipes, that can easily be made at home, along with the nutrition facts.
She has also checked with her child's paediatrician and so that all the information is accurate enough.

This book is available here on amazon

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sprouted Moong Saar / Mooga Saar

TH has had his wisdom tooth extracted and is in quite a bit of pain, and can't really chew on anything or have anything hot or spicy for a couple of days. He had ice-creams and shakes for a day, but doesn't feel like he's had a meal, unless he has his quota of rice.
I made this mooga saar with rice for him, which is a nice comforting meal !

sprouted moong saar

This is one of my favourites, apart from this tomato saar, from Ma's different varieties of saar. Its made from sprouted green moong. A simple, quick saar that goes really well with rice and any simple sabji. This saar doesn't let any of the sprouted goodness go waste and is really nutritious.

If you have the patience, you can sprout the green moong. I'm lucky since I get sprouted moong from my vegetable vendor.

What you need -

1 cup sprouted green moong
6-8 sprigs of coriander
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 tbsp grated jaggery
1 tbsp jeera / cumin seeds
2 green chillies
1/2 tsp tamarind pulp
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp oil
a few curry leaves

What you do with it -

Take the leaves off the sprigs, clean, chop and set aside
Cook the sprouted moong in enough water. Drain and save the water
The skin of the sprouts rises up when you cook it. Take this skin along with some of the cooked moong and set aside
Store the remaining cooked moong to make an usal or any other sabji
Add the coconut, coriander leaves, jeera, tamarind, green chillies and jaggery to the skin and moong that is kept aside and grind to a smooth paste
Add the water (check the consistency and add appropriately) from the cooked moong and salt and bring to a boil
Temper the mustard seeds and curry leaves in a tsp of oil and add to the saar once its done
Serve with rice for a simple satisfying meal

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mango loaf

During my visit back home, I managed to meet up with three friends who I only know through food blogs and facebook. We've commented on posts, 'liked' stuff on fb, but never really met. I met Geetha of Fragrant kitchen, who is a super creative baker and makes some amazing cake decorations, Suma of Cakes and More, who would love to bake every single day if she could and SJ of Masala Vade, who is seriously super fun !

mango loaf

It felt a little strange at first, since all I knew about them was through their blogs or fb updates. I knew that food always helps to bond better and it turned out to be so wonderful meeting all of them
I met Geetha at her place and she was busy decorating fondant animals for a little girl's birthday. Had a nice time chatting away with some tea and chocolate muffins loaded with nuts
Met Suma at Coffee Day and chatted away for hours, discussing baking, blogging, kids, family,...everything. She gifted me a bunch of vanilla beans that she had got from Kerala
SJ invited my son and me for lunch and had a huge spread ready. The kids played and we chatted away. Had a really great time...

Over the weekend, SJ asked me if I would be able to bake Dorie Greenspan's fresh mango bread, and I was more than willing. I tried my best to follow the recipe, but along the way, I made my own substitutions, and fortunately, landed up with one moist mango-ey loaf !

mango loaf slice

Here's a slice for you...

Mango Loaf
See original recipe here

What you need -

2 cups chopped mangoes (I used 2 badami mangoes)
2 eggs
1/2 cup mango puree (I used the kesar variety)
3/4 cup oil (I used safflower)
2 cups APF / maida
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp zest of lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins

What you do with it -

In a deep bowl, mix the flour, sugars, baking powder and baking soda, clove powder, cinnamon powder and salt
Whisk the eggs, oil and mango puree, till it all comes together. You can skip the mango puree. I had it on hand and it made the loaf more moist
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix till it blends well. In this recipe here, she mentioned that the batter will be more like dough, which it was, but the puree helped in bringing it all together
Add in the mango pieces, raisins and zest

Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C and line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Leave a little extra paper coming out from the pan on all sides. Grease the paper, dust it with flour and pour the batter into it. I have tried this the last few times I baked bread in the loaf tin. It helps to keep the shape intact when you take the loaf out and also keep the loaf pan pretty clean
Allow to bake for about 80 mins or till done. I use the convection mode of my microwave to bake, so timing may vary with a regular oven. If the loaf starts to brown too much, cover with foil halfway thru the baking time
Allow it to cool for 5 minutes, then pull up the loaf using the edges of the parchment paper
Cut the loaf once its cooled to room temperature
Works great for breakfast with a cup of hot tea

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ambe Khol / Spiced mango curry

A favourite delicacy among Konkanis is Ambe sasam or curried mangoes. If its not the season for mangoes, then fruits like pineapple or grapes are used. Coconut, red chillies and mustard are ground to make a base for the mango curry and I, personally, do not care too much for this and always prefer eating the fruit as is

ambe khol

I've always believed that adding any spice to the fruits spoils the real taste of it, though I am slowly opening up to it now
My son was on a mango diet in Bangalore and totally enjoyed it. Then Ma made this ambe khol. This is different from the sasam - it does not have coconut, just slightly spiced.

My son enjoyed it so much, that I decided to finally give it a shot. Though I hate to admit, I actually enjoyed this. I may even give the sasam a try, with pineapple perhaps. The spices should work better with that !

Ambe Khol

What you need -

5 small mangoes (called goyant ambe in Konkani)
1/2 cup grated jaggery
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp pepper powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 red chilli, broken into 2-3 pieces
1/2 tsp oil
1 cup water
pulp of one mango (alphonso, badami or any other, based on availability)

What you do with it -

Wash mangoes and peel the skin off. Keep the mangoes aside
Add 1 cup water to the peeled skins and squeeze them well, taking as much pulp as you can and then discard the skin
In a pan, heat a tsp of oil, add the mustard seeds and the red chilli
Add the mangoes, squeezed out pulp, mango pulp, jaggery, salt and pepper powder
Bring it to a boil and then add adjust salt and jaggery, as required


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