Hectic weekend went by..and I finally get a moment or two to myself. As Children's Day was being celebrated across the country, the color, happiness, and smiles on the faces of all the little ones brightened every nook and corner.

My son went for a school picnic on Friday to Dharamshi Resorts, Bangalore. He thoroughly enjoyed the swimming pool and toy train ride. The trip left him completely tanned and exhausted..but he looked absolutely refreshed and happy!!!

On Saturday we celebrated Children's Day in our apartment. There are around 50 children who stay in our apartment (which I had no clue!!!) and the organizing committee had planned for loads of fun.

To start off with there was a Fancy Dress competition for all the children below five years. Aryan was dressed up as a pirate and he was super excited about his sword :)))


There were other games such as Potato Race, Lemon and Spoon Race, Threading the needle, etc and all the kids had loads of fun. The parents also had a good time and it was so nice to see all the children laughing and screaming with joy.

I had made Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes and Chocolate-Walnut cookies for all the children.



They were super excited to see the cupcakes and jumped with joy!!!

Here's wishing all the Children and their parents a very happy Children's Day!!!

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I had some work in the bank today and on my way back, found a thela-wala selling corn cobs. I was immediately reminded of Bhutte Ka Kees and quickly bought a couple of them. I was super excited to try it out as I saw this recipe on the TV a couple of weeks ago. I was instantly drawn to it reason being this, apparently, is a famous cuisine from Indore and I've never had Indori cuisine before. This recipe was quite simple yet so different from anything I've had before.


Curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to find out a little bit more about Indore and its food specialties while I went ahead with the preparation of the dish. Here is what I researched.. (source Google)

Situated south of Satpura Range on the Malwa Plateau, Indore is the largest city and commercial capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is also known as The City of Holkars. The city was built by a holkar, Rani Ahilya Bai, one of the famous queens of India. Formerly a major trading centre, the city, along with its satellite townships of Pithampur,Mhow and Dewas, has established itself as a strong industrial base. The overall outlook of the city is an amalgamation of young and old, historical and contemporary.

Indore is famous for its culinary range. People of Indore (and for that reason, the entire Malwa) are well known gastronomes. Sweets and Namkeen (tasty salted snacks – a typical Indian preparation) of Indore are famous all over India. Sarafa (Jewellery market, near Rajwada) and Chappan Dukan (56 shops) are the two well known gourmet hangouts of the city. A special dish of the Malwa region, including Indore, is the Dal Bafla.

The staple food (snacks) of the city is Poha-Jalebi. People are also fond of Sabudane-ki-Khichdi. Life in Indore starts early with cups of ‘Chai’ (tea) with Poha & Jalebi followed by lunch which invariably includes popular ‘besan’ (gram flour) preparations. Later in the day one can easily find snacks like ‘Khaman’, ‘Kachori’ – ‘aloo kachori’, ‘dal kachori’, ‘Dahi Chat’, ‘Tokri Chat’, ’samosa’, ‘petis’, ‘Baked Samosa’, ‘Bhel puri’, ‘Pani Puri’, ‘mathri’ etc. Numerous shops of sweets have enjoyed nice business in Indore. Late nights another market comes alive at 11:00 PM in Sarafa (in the heart of city) where one finds lots of delicacies to enjoy after a nice dinner like – ‘Gajak’,'Bhutte ka kis’, ‘Dahi Bada’ ‘Gulab Jamun’, ‘garadu’, ‘Rabri’, ‘aalo tikiya’, ‘Halwa (JMB Gajar, Moong)’, icecreams, milkshakes, rabdi (milk custard), malpuye, etc. and finally tasty ‘paan’ to end your day. Bafle-Gosht is a delicacy of Indore and Malwa Region.

Trivia:
-> The gates of Lalbagh Palace, Indore, are a replica of the gates of Buckingham Palace in London. They were cast in England and then shipped to Indore.
-> Indore has a huge cricket bat called “Vijay Balla” made out of concrete with names of the players of the Indian team who won the 1971 series against Gary Sobers’ West Indies team.
-> 40 feet (12 m) high idol at Bada Ganapati is the largest idol of Lord Ganesh in the world.
-> RRCAT(formerly CAT), Raja Rammanna Center for Advanced Technology is India’s main Research center on Laser and Accelerator Technology, under the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India.
-> The famous Radio Mirchi 98.3(then 98.4) FM was started first in Indore, then spread to ten other cities of India including 4 metros.
-> Until the early 1990s, Bollywood movies were released on Thursdays in Indore, and released elsewhere on Fridays.
-> The first private landline telephone service in India was launched in Indore by Airtel by the name Touchtel.
-> Because of similarity between the lifestyles, fashion and taste Indore is nicknamed Mini Bombay.
-> The 250 year old Rajvada of Indore is the only structure in India which has been reconstructed as it existed using the similar materials and methods of construction in 2007 by architects Himanshu Dudwadkar and Shreya Bhargava.
-> Only city in India to have both IIM and IIT.


Phew!!! I didnt know so much about Indore before.. quite an insight!!!

Well the dish is ready and here is the recipe..

Ingredients:
5 medium-sized fresh corn cobs,
4 tbsp ghee,
1/2 tsp cumin seeds,
1/8 tsp asafoetida,
2 tsp ginger paste,
1 tsp garlic paste,
1/2 tsp green chilli paste, more if you want it spicy,
1/2 tsp turmeric powder,
Salt as per taste
1 cup milk,
1 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh coconut, grated (optional, I've not used)

Method:

1.) Grate corn cobs and set it aside.


2.) Heat ghee in a pan and add the cumin seeds, asafoetida and ginger-garlic-green chilly paste.
3.) Once its slightly brown, add the grated corn, turmeric and salt.
4.) Add the milk slowly, stirring all the time, and bring to a boil.
5.) Simmer until corn is cooked.
6.) As the moisture evaporates, the mixture will start to thicken and stick to the pan so keep stirring all the time.
6.) Garnish with coriander leaves and grated coconut. Serve hot immediately with any type of roti.


This is quite dry unlike what I had seen in the TV show. But probably it could be made into a gravy if you add more milk. You could also add kernels of corn to give this more density and crunch, though you will have to cook it a little longer. Another version of this dish, which is used more like a snack, can be found here.


Taste wise it was really nice. Very different from the regular cuisines that I make at home. It tasted very good when mixed with plain rice as well.

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I love to experiment with dal's as I feel its that one thing without which your meal is incomplete. It goes hand-in-hand with roti or rice. But sometimes having the same type of dal brings in monotony and I'm always in the look out for different variations to it. I've had Dal Pachranga in restaurants and weddings before and found it quite interesting. I have this book by Sanjeev Kapoor, Dal-Roti which has come to my rescue many times. I've tried out Dal Pachranga from this book a couple of times before and its quite good. Its called Pachranga because 5 differnt dal's are used in this recipe and all the flavors come together very well.

Its a gloomy day today..its been raining and haven't seen the sun since morning...Filter coffee was on my mind and made myself a hot cup.. Its the weather which reflects on my mood..dull, gloomy, and all I did was swap the channels to see if something interesting caught my attention..Was very lazy to cook myself a meal for lunch.. There was some left over rice from yesterday's dinner..so all I had to do was make a dal. I thought that Dal Pachranga would be perfect.


Here's the recipe...

Ingredients:
1/4th cup bengal gram (chana dal),
1/4th cup whole green gram (green moong),
1/4th cup black gram (dhuli urad dal),
1/4th cup pigeon peas (tuar dal),
1/4th cup red lentils (masooor dal),
1/2 tsp turmeric powder,
1/2 tsp cumin seeds,
4-5 cloves,
2 dried red chillies, broken in half,
1 tsp cumin powder,
1 tsp coriander powder,
1/2 tsp red chilli powder,
2 medium tomatoes, chopped,
1 inch ginger, chopped,
2 green chillies, chopped,
1/2 tsp garam masala powder,
a pinch of asafoetida,
3 tbsp oil,
Salt as per taste,

Method:
1.) Wash all the pulses and soak for atleast 2 hrs. Boil with enough water, turmeric powder and salt till cooked well.
2.) Grind ginger and green chillies to a fine paste.
3.) Heat oil in a pan, add asafoetida, cumin seeds, cloves, and red chillies. When the cumin seeds being to change colour, add ginger-green chilli paste and saute for a few seconds.
4.) Add the cumin powder, coriander powder, and red chilli powder. Add the tomatoes and cook until the oil sperates. Add cooked lentils and additional water if required.
5.) Cook for 8-10 mins stirring occasionally. Add the garam masala and serve hot with roti or rice.


Delicious afternoon meal on a cold rainy day!!!

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Last couple of months have been really hectic for me.. The business is slowly picking up now..plus it was the festive season..Its taken a toll on my health..with the most obvious dark circles below my eyes! To add to this, we had to attend a wedding in Mangalore which left me completely sun tanned..

Life in totality might be extremely hectic but I'm totally enjoying it. The chaos has not left me any time for myself, and but obvious its filtered down to my family as well. I haven't been blogging for a good 7-8 months now. Its not that I'm not stirring up something special now and then, just that I'm not motivated enough to take beautiful pictures and write down the complete recipe and post them.

Off late we've been eating out quite a lot, thanks to my hectic schedule.. but I try and cook at home as much as possible. Yesterday I decided to make some special food, since it was my day off. It was nice to just chill out and laze around the whole day. Went up to a neighbors house and chatted for almost 2hrs. I must mention, every time she would ring the bell to catch up with me, I'd be either getting ready to leave for office, or I'd be on the phone with a client..She really has been quite patient with me and I'm happy she didn't write me off as a snobbish, snooty business women!!!

Evening I decided to have a surprise meal for my family, just to let them know that I still do cook well and I can still make something special :) I had some spaghetti which I think I had bought almost 6 months ago. I actually had to check the expiry date on it..:) I had all the ingredients for an Arrabiata sauce, and I love mashed potatoes so I decided I'd make that as well. The neighbor during our morning discussion, passed me some very fresh beans, carrots, brinjal, tomatoes, which came from her native farm. So I also wanted to make baked vegetables. The menu came together so well which left me completely motivated to write this blog today :)


Here's the recipe for Arrabiata Sauce..

Ingredients:
2 onions, medium sized, finely chopped,
5 tomatoes, medium sized, pureed,
6-7 garlic pods, finely chopped,
2 tbsp olive oil,
1 tsp red chilli powder, (more if needed)
1 tsp oregano,
1 tsp parsley,
1/4 tsp rosemary,
Salt as per taste

Method:
1.) Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
2.) Add oregano, parsley, rosemary and saute gently. Add garlic and onions and fry until the onions have become golden brown.
3.) Add the tomato puree and mix well. Add salt and red chilli powder as per taste.
4.) Keep cooking for 10-15 mins. Set aside.

The next step would be to cook the sphagetti. Bring a big vessel full of water and 1tsp salt to a boil. Once the water is boiling add the dried spaghetti. This would take about 8-10 mins to cook. Keep checking once in a while if its cooked. Once cooked, drain the noddles and pass it through cold running water. This will prevent it from sticking to each other. Set it aside.

To assemble the spaghetti and sauce, just make a bed of spaghetti and pour the hot sauce over it. Grate your choice of cheese and serve hot.


Recipe for Mashed Potato can be found here


Recipe for Steamed Vegetables:
Cut your favorite vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Steam them in a steamer for 7-8 mins. Heat a pan with 1 tbsp of butter and add freshly crushed black pepper. Add the steamed vegetables and saute for a min. Add salt as per taste. Serve hot.


We had a great time and everyone enjoyed the dinner. I think its these special moments that make our life more meaningful....

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Its been a couple of months that I've blogged and suddenly everything looks so different and it feels like I'm back to square one.. trying to figure out the formatting et all!!!

To start off with I wanted a new look for the blog and ended up messing with the format.. luckily had saved the old template. Finally I managed to zero in on one but ended up losing all the widgets..messy, messy, messy!!!

And it was messy outside as well..After a long time it poured heavily in Bangalore..It felt wonderful..the smell of fresh soil..Ahhhaa!!!

I went out in the balcony and the plants looked so happy..My mood brightend and hot coffee came to mind!!! As I set out to make the decoction, I thought wouldnt it be nice if I have warm soup instead..

I thought of making a Lentil Soup which I had been thinking of trying out for sometime...


Ingredients:
1/2 cup Pigeon Pea (tuar dal),
1 bay leaf,
1/2-inch cinnamon stick,
6-7 garlic pods, peeled, crushed,
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly crushed,
Salt as per taste

Method:
1.) In a pressure cooker, put all the ingredients along with enough water and cook until the dal has competely mashed.
2.) Once cooled, pass it through a fine seive.
3.) Place the seived soup into another vessel. Add water if needed, to bring to the desired consistency.
4.) Adjust seasoning and serve hot.


The result was mindblowing..but I think it was the weather which did the magic.. The soup was very mildly flavoured. The taste of cinnamon was kind of new to me in a soup, but it tasted fantastic.

The soup is also rich is protien, which is very good for health, especially children.

My son and I enjoyed this tasty hot soup in the balcony seeing the rains...Blissful!!!
When talking about comfort food, how can one not mention "Kadhi". This buttermilk soup has been a part of various cultures...atleast the one's I've known.. Be it a Gujrati Kadhi, or a Maharashtrian Kadhi, a Punjabi Kadhi, or a More Khozumbu down South...its pretty much the same ingredients but uniquely distinct flavours...But if one were to analyze Kadhi's importance in Indian cuisine, then the only logical answer that I can think of is most Indian cuisines are hot and fiery and to counter that, buttermilk is used. Kadhi, hence, becomes an instant seller as its full of flavours, tangy, and most importantly a comfort food to most people.


I've tasted all the versions of Kadhi..and I enjoy them all..The best combination of Kadhi is with Onion Pakoda or Onion Fritters. But really when it comes to cooking...I'm very experimental...I have my own version of kadhi..which tastes good as well.. Basically its a concoction of all the above types....:)

Ingredients: Makes approx 2 servings
3 cups sour buttermilk,
1 onion, chopped length wise into thin slices,
8-10 garlic pods, chopped length wise,
5-6 curry leaves,
2-3 green chillies, slit lengthwise,
1-1/2 tsp cumin seeds,
1 tsp fenugreek seeds,
1 tsp turmeric powder,
1 tbsp cornflour, mixed in 2 spoons of water,
1 tbsp oil,
Salt as per taste,
Fresh green coriander, chopped,

Method:
1.) In a bowl, mix buttermilk, salt to taste, and turmeric powder. Mix well and set aside.
2.) Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds. Add the onions, green chillies, garlic, and curry leaves. Mix well and allow the onions to turn golden brown.
3.) Add the buttermilk mixture and mix well. Keep the flame low.
4.) As the mixture starts coming to a boil, add the cornflour/water mix. Keep stirring continuously. Turn off the heat.
5.) Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot with onion pakodas.

Sneek Peek:



Truly divine!!!
Off late, there's lots happening on the home front. We've been having guests off and on and dinners are exotic...Mostly I'm out shopping for groceries and marinating and cooking and cleaning...etc..etc.. Phew!!! Its hectic and tiring, yet am quite delighted to do so..

This afternoon I thought of making myself some simple and basic food for lunch..and what better than a simple Egg Bhurji, served with some dal, rice and pickle...Awesome combination...isn't it..I know your mouth is watering as well :-) This is comfort food and very simple and fast to make..I love Egg Bhurji and I can eat it just as is...Delicious...

Ingredients: (Serves approx 2 persons)
4 eggs,beaten well,
1 large onion,finely chopped,
1 tsp cumin seeds,
1 large green chilli,finely chopped,
4 tsp oil,
Salt as per taste,
Green coriander, finely chopped,

Method:
1.) Heat the oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds. As it splutters, add the green chilli and onions. Stir fry until golden brown.
2.) Add salt as per taste to the beaten eggs and mix well.
3.) Pour this over the onions and mix well. Once the eggs have scrambled, keep stirring until you see the water has evaporated and oil starts to seperate. The colour of the eggs will turn golden brown and slightly crispy.
4.) Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot.

Sneek Peek:



I enjoyed a scrumptious meal today and am off for a quick nap...:-)
If there is one sweet dish that I can have at any time of the day or night..its Rawa Kesari. I love it..and any version of it is fine...plain, or with pineapple...From the time I remember flavours, I know Rawa Kesari. I love the way my mami makes it..she adds loads of ghee..and you know me..I never count my calories :-)

Both my MIL and FIL are wonderful cooks and this dish is prepared by my FIL. I cannot take any credit of the entire process except the photographs!!! And just because my FIL knows that I blog..he's taken extra care to decorate it so beautifully...I just don't have any words left.....except..Thank You!!!



Here's how he made it...

Ingredients:
1 cup semolina, dry roasted slightly,
3/4th cup sugar,
2 cups water,
5-6 tbsp of ghee,
1/2 tsp cardamom powder,
Few cashews and raisins for garnish,
Few saffron strands dissolved in 2 tsp of warm milk,(optional),


Method:
1.) Heat 2 tbsps of ghee and fry the cashews & raisins until golden brown in color. Remove and set it aside.
2.) In the same pan, add the remaining ghee. Add the semolina and fry for sometime. Add the sugar and keep stirring continuously.
3.) In the meantime, in a another vessel, bring the water to a boil.
4.) Add the boiling water to the semolina/sugar mixture. Keep stirring continuously so that no lumps are formed.
5.) Add the saffron dissolved milk and the cardamom powder and mix well.
6.) Garnish with fried cashews and raisins.

Sneek Peek:



Have it hot or chilled, it tastes awesome any which ways...For all festivities, Rawa Kesari is a must in our house...there is never a dearth of people to hog it you know :0)



This is my second entry for Food In Colours hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and the original brainchild of Harini from Tongue Ticklers.
Breakfast is an important meal for all and especially considering at home we have only the breakfast and dinner together, its even more important to make sure that I make something which is liked by everyone. Its really difficult to come up with something new for breakfast everyday. I myself don't like to repeat the same dishes, leave apart the weird faces my hubby and son make :(

Yesterday, I bought a loaf of triangle shaped sandwich bread thinking I'd make sandwich's for breakfast today. I had decided to make a vegetable sandwich but as luck would have it..I got up a little late and everything just got delayed. I decided to switch over to a faster option of Instant Garlic Bread..

Here's how I made it...

Ingredients:
Bread slices,
4 tbsps salted butter,
7-8 garlic cloves, crushed or very finely chopped,
Oregano seasonings, (I've used the one's you get from Pizza Hut/Domino's)Chilli flakes, (optional), (I've not used it here)
Salt as per taste,

Method:
1.) Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
2.) In a small bowl, mix the butter and the crushed/chopped garlic. Check and adjust the salt.
3.) Butter the bread slices with this mix and sprinkle oregano and chilli flakes.
4.) Toast the bread until the sides start to turn brown.
5.) Serve immediately.

Sneek Peek:



This tastes divine...especially when served along with a pasta dish...But like I said..its a tastier option than serving just a regular bread & butter for breakfast.


We love garlic bread...and we finished it all :) Yum Yum... :-0)
A few months back, for Christmas, I had a small tea party. I had decided to make an Orange Cake from a paper cutting I had resevered for sometime. Shortly, after the tea party, I went off on a vacation and this post just did not get published. When Aparna announced the FIC-Orange this month, I knew what I had to do :-) Food themes like this, inspire you to get your posts out however lazy you might feel..:-0)

I had never made an Orange Cake before and this recipe was fairly simple. Thought of giving it a try. Good quality oranges are available during winter here (though nowadays oranges are available all round the year)especially the imported ones.

The orange glaze is the best part about the whole cake which I realized only after eating it!!! This cake makes a perfect tea time cake, if you have some oranges handy..


Ingredients for the basic Orange Cake:
2 cups flour,
1 cup powdered sugar,
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened,
2 eggs,
1/2 tsp salt,
2 tsps baking powder,
Zest from one orange,
1/2 cup orange juice,

Method:
1.) Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees for 10 mins.
2.) Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder thrice and set aside.
3.) In a bowl, beat the eggs. Add the sugar and butter and beat until creamy. Stir the zest and the juice of the orange at this point.
4.) Fold the flour mixture gently. Scrape down the sides and mix evenly. Pour the mixture into a greased pan.
5.) Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 mins or until skewer inserted comes out clean.

Ingredients for Orange Glaze:
Juice from one orange,
1/4 cup sugar,
2-3 drops of orange colour (optional),

Method:
1.) Mix the sugar and the orange juice and place it in a small pan.
2.) On low heat, keep stirring the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. If using color, add at this point.
3.) Once the cake is done, remove it from the tin immediately and transfer onto a plate or turntable.
4.) If the cake has puffed up in the middle, turn it over so that you have a smooth surface.
5.) Pour the glaze over the cake immediately. Allow it to cool down completely and then cut into pieces.

Sneek Peek:


The cake came out well, except that it had puffed up a little in the middle. I had to press it down a bit, so that the glaze gets soaked in properly.


The taste was awesome and we all loved it. The butter was a little less (the original recipe called for 2 cups of butter!!!) and hence the cake was slightly on the dry side. But since I was serving this for tea..it was fine. It went very well with the mood of Christmas as well!!!


The glaze had the right amount of sweetness, tang, and flavour and had soaked in well. Overall, quite an orangy experience!!!

Sending this off to Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen who is hosting the Food In Colours for the month of February, the original brainchild of Harini of Tongue Ticklers
A genuine problem faced across the culinary world is the conversion aspect. We love to try out recipes from various parts of the world..but a look at the recipe and there you go again...pounds, ounces, grams, cups...Gosh! that looks complicated...Lets try the recipe some other time....

Tired of this..one day I went to the local market and got myself a kitchen weighing machine with a maximum capacity of 5 kgs. If you don't have one already, try and get one here..trust me its quite something!!! The weighing machine helped me to have a common platform to work on..GRAMS/KILOGRAMS! I always prefer to convert the recipe to grams because that way I cannot go wrong with the measurement. When measuring using cups, there is always a possibility to "add more" or "add less" than what the actual recipe calls for. For example, when a recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, we don't know whether it should be 1 leveled cup or 1 heaped cup. Adding more or adding less, drastically changes the end result of product in its texture and taste.

Now that I had a kitchen weighing machine, the next thing I needed was to convert the recipe to my desired platform...Honestly, there are lots of conversion sites available when you google it..however, not every conversion site gives you the appropriate information.

One site that I have always referred back is Diana's Desserts. Diana is a wonderful baker and her site has a beautiful collection of Bakes and Desserts. One of the sections in her website is called Conversion Calculator. I visit here often and I haven't seen a better conversion site than this one. It has everything that we need while baking or cooking. Its very user friendly and conversions for weight, volume, butter, length, oven and grams to cup conversion. What I love the most is the butter conversion to "stick". I was so unaware of this "stick" concept when I started baking a few months back. But Diana's Desserts solved my first problem. The site has lots of useful information...Have a look!!!

Another problem that we all face is substitutes for ingredients. I had a tough time until I found this interesting section in allrecipes.com. This section is called Common Substitutions where they have an ingredient wise table and gives you the exact measurements of substitutes. I find this very useful and handy when I run out of ingredients or I don't want to include an ingredient such as brandy or egg.

Most of you, by now, must have started to think that I'm the newly appointed Marketing Head for the above sites, but let me assure you..this post is just an attempt to help many others who have faced similar situations like me. I hope the Conversion Calculator and Common Substitutions sites help you as much as they have helped me in all my kitchen endeavours :-)

Happy Experimenting!!!
Guess what…I had a new guest over this weekend…my mom!!! She came over on her way back from Kerala, just for 3 days..too short…I know..but I’m happy she came.. This was the first time she was visiting us, since we relocated to Blr…and I was equally excited as was my son. Oh! He was going to get a Spiderman games CD she had promised over the phone… I decided to surprise her with a nice cake..and something special it had to be.. Eureka!!! Let’s wear on the experimenting hat!!!

I’ve been on an experimentation mode for some time now.. and my blog is raining bakes from the start of the new year… Someone asked me the other day, is it the theme of the month or something… Ofcourse not!!!…but I will admit, I’m really getting passionate about baking. I’m getting better..but I’m yet to reach up there…I’ve drooled at some of the awesome bakes by some of my fellow bloggers and wondered is it really possible to get that perfection? Yes ofcourse, but only if you persistently try out new recipes, and don’t get bogged down by the response its going to get…Ahem..I’m being very optimistic here..

Like I said, the moment I wear the experimenting hat…ideas start pouring in.. I was thinking of making an orange cake.. but the last time I made it..during Christmas, it was quite simple..I had made it to serve for a small Christmas party I hosted at home.. But remember mom’s coming over..and it has to be special.. so I decided to add walnuts to the simple orange cake..and wow this could also be the time to experiment on a Ganache frosting..what say??? So Walnut and Orange Cake with Ganache Frosting it had to be…:-) It doesn’t take long to think…does it??


I had all the ingredients handy except oranges…so I decided to use an Orange Marmalade preserve instead. Since I was experimenting, the safest bet was to make a sponge cake.. Very simply put, its all ingredients measured out in the same proportion, in this case 150 gms. Since I was using an orange marmalade preserve which already has a lot of sugar, plus the chocolate ganache would also add to the sweetness…so I decided to weigh down the sugar for the cake. The walnuts and the orange marmalade together made a 150 gms…. So that’s it..i had all my ingredients weighed out and altered appropriately..


Here’s what went in finally….

Ingredients for the cake:
150 gms flour,
150 gms unsalted butter,
75 gms powdered sugar,
3 eggs,
50 gms walnuts, chopped,
100 gms orange marmalade preserve, (I've used Kissan)
1 tsp baking powder,
1 tsp orange essence (water based),
Few drops of orange colour (optional), (I've not used here),

Method:
1.) Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees for 10 mins. Grease a cake tin and set it aside.
2.) Sift the flour and the baking powder thrice and set it aside. Using a spoon mix the orange marmalade to make a smooth paste.
3.) In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the orange essence and beat until creamy and soft peaks appear.
4.) Slowly incorporate the flour into the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Scrape down the sides to ensure the batter is mixed well.
5.) Add the marmalade and the walnuts and mix well until fully incorporated. If you are using the orange colour, this would be the right time to mix the colour.
6.) Pour the batter in the greased pan and place it in the centre of the oven for 30 mins.
7.) Remove and allow it to cool on a wire rack.

Ingredients for the Ganache:
200 ml cream,
200 gms dark chocolate,
Few drops of orange essence (oil based),
Some chocolate shavings for decoration,
Silver or coloured dagrees,

Method:
1.) Place the cream and the dark chocolate into a pan and heat over low flame until all the chocolate has melted. Add the orange essence and keep stirring until everything its mixed well and no lumps remain. Allow this to cool.
2.) Frost the cake as per your choice. Decorate with grated chocolate shavings and silver dagrees.

Place the cake in the fridge and serve chilled.

Sneek Peek:


I was amazed at the results..the orange and the chocolate were married perfectly...and the walnuts added the right amount of crunch to flavours. The chilled chocolate ganache tasted awesome as well.. I was quite skeptical about the ganache as this is the first time I was trying it out...but I'm glad it came out well..


Mom, hubby and my son loved it..and mom instantly declared me a "Daring Baker" :-)


We enjoyed this chilled bake as the country celebrated its 60th Republic Day!!!
I was introduced to something known as a Swiss Roll when I had been to a baking course few years ago.. Years later, after having forgotten and also lost the recipes given by that teacher, I joined another crash course in baking few months ago, where I was introduced to Swiss Rolls again. Well, the teacher taught us a very simple one with jam which was not something that I would jump in the first instance to make.

Few weeks back, we went to a restaurant for Sunday Buffet Lunch where they had a huge spread of sweet dishes apart from the starters and main course menu. They had this beautiful, little, Strawberry Swiss Rolls which were out of the world!!! I kept looking at them, wondering why it never occurred to me that I could enhance a simple Swiss Roll to something as delicious as this...

Swiss roll is a type of sponge cake baked in a very shallow rectangular baking tray, and then usually filled with jam or buttercream, rolled up, and served in circular slices. The origins of the term "Swiss" roll are unclear, since the cake does not have its origins in Switzerland, nor is it widely consumed there. It's a Central European cake, a traditional German, Hungarian and probably Austrian type of cake. (Info Source: Wikipedia)

I knew I had to try this out. I gave it some thought about what should be included to make it Strawberry Swiss Rolls...


Honestly, to someone who's never tried this before or are trying there hands in baking...this might look very intimidating...but please trust me on this...its absolutely easy and hardly takes about 30 mins to mix & bake and maybe another 30 mins for the frosting.. In this post, I'll take you through a step-by-step process which will help while you try this out....

Ingredients for the Swiss Roll: Makes 1 log of sponge cake
1 cup flour,
1 cup powdered sugar,
1 tsp baking powder,
3 eggs,
1-1/2 tsp vanilla essence,
2 sheets butter paper

Method for baking the cake:
1.) Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree C for 10 mins.
2.) Sift the flour and baking powder and set aside.
3.) Beat the eggs, vanilla, and sugar until thick in consistency.
4.) Fold in the sifted flour to the wet mixture.
5.) Pour the mixture into the paper lined and greased Swiss Roll tin. I've used a baking sheet.
6.) Bake for 10-15 mins or until skewer comes out clean.

Method for rolling the cake:


Steps as per the above picture
Step 1: Take the cake out of the oven.
Step 2: Keep a fresh butter paper on a flat surface and sprinkle granulated sugar over it. Take the hot cake and turn it upside down on this butter paper. Remove the butter paper which was used to line the baking sheet slowly ensuring not to tear the cake.
Step 3: From the width end of the cake start rolling the cake along with the granulated butter paper, away from you. Ensure its tightly done.
Step 4: The rolled cake should look as per the above picture (4). Keep it this way in the refrigerator for 20 mins.

Ingredients for Strawberry Frosting: Makes approximately 2 cups
1-1/2 cup double cream, chilled,
1/2 cup strawberry crush or fresh strawberries, pureed,
3-4 tbsp of powdered sugar, (optional)

Method:


Steps as per the above picture
Step 1: Measure out the cream and the strawberry crush in separate containers. In case you are using fresh strawberries, then add add 3-4 tbsp (or more as per taste) of sugar to the pureed strawberries.
Step 2: Whip the cream using an electric beater until soft peaks. Ensure to not over beat as it will turn into butter. Fold in the strawberry crush to the whipped cream very gently.
Step 3: Open the baked roll. Remove the butter paper from the back. Spread dollops of frosting and level it using a palette knife. Roll back the roll into its original shape.
Step 4: Place the rolled log onto a turntable or serving plate. Using the pallette knife, cover the roll with the remaining frosting except the circular ends.
Step 5: Sprinkle coloured sugar threads or anyt other decoratives or sprinklers of your choice. Chill for atleast 1-2 hrs before serving.
Step 6: Cut the rolls into 1/2-inch pieces and serve.

Sneek Peek:

It tasted delicious..and I was very happy with it overall...I didn't expect the end result, after frosting, would look so good. This is my second attempt at frosting...and I'm glad I've kind of got a hold over the palette knife now!!!


These Strawberry Swiss Rolls are on their way for my BIL and SIL for their 3rd wedding anniversary...Here's wishing you both many more years of blissful happiness and togetherness!!!
Happy Makar Sankranti & Pongal to all!!!

Makar Sankranti is perhaps the only Indian festival whose date always falls on the same day every year i.e. the 14th of January. Can you guess why? This is because the festival of Sankranti is based on the solar calendar unlike the rest of Indian festivals, which are based on the lunar calendar. Makar literally means "Capricorn" and Sankranti is the day when the Sun changes it's position from one sign of the Zodiac to the other. Even though Sankranti comes every month, in the month of Magha (January) it is considered especially auspicious as it coincides with the harvest season and marks the end of the winter season. (Info: Google)

Being a South Indian, I've relived the happiness and joy of Pongal every year... Though I did make chakara pongal which is customary in our house, I also decided to make Til Ke Laddu or tilgul.

The sesame seed or til is given a lot of importance because in this season it is considered to have nutritive and medicinal properties. Til when mixed with jaggery becomes sticky and is exchanged with one another as a symbol of friendship in Maharashtra. In Marathi there is a famous saying "tilgul ghya aani god god bola" which means..."take tilgul and speak sweetly". People are encouraged to imbibe the qualities of tilgul and stick together with love and friendship.

Here's the recipe...

Ingredients: Makes approx 30 big laddus
500 gms white sesame seeds, roasted,
250 gms jaggery, grated,
100 gms peanuts, roasted, deskinned,

Method:
1.) Grind the sesame seeds in a mixer to a semi-fine powder. Remove and set it aside.
2.) Grind the peanuts coarsely. Remove and set it aside.
3.) Grind the grated jaggery until its super-fine and start to form lumps.
4.) Add the ground sesame powder and peanut powder and give it a good churn.
5.) Remove and while its still warm, shape them mixture into round laddu's.

Sneek Peek:


Delicious, beautifully round laddu's....


"tilgul ghya aani god god bola"

Warning: If you are calorie or diet conscious - do not read any further..this recipe is not for you.. However, if you want to indulge or give-in to that sinful pleasure of a delicious chocolate cupcake..read on...

And for those who are like me..the "live life - queen size" types.. who don't count their calories or sorrows...this is just the perfect indulgence that you can ask for...or I would say..make for yourself!!! Treat yourself to this wonderful, truly-divine, moist, chocolatey..yummy chocolate cupcake..with a whipped cream frosting...:)

Now it does not take a special occasion to prepare something as wonderful as this..does it? I don't think so...And there is absolutely no special reason why I prepared this...except the fact that I was browsing through a very old recipe book which I had purchased from a second-hand bookshop in London, and saw this recipe...I went through the ingredients and wow!!!...I had everything that needed to be there...and that itself was motivation for me to prepare the cupcakes..I don't wait for occasions or tomorrow..Today is the day..So live it to the core..:)

Coming back to the recipe...this is an almost no-flour recipe..which is why it makes it so special..This is my first cake recipe where the quantity of flour is so less..Here's the recipe..

Ingredients: Makes 10 big sized cupcakes
150 gms dark chocolate,
150 gms butter,
150 gms sugar, powdered,
3 eggs,
2 tbsp flour, not leveled,

Method:
1.) Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2.) Using a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate together. Ensure there are no lumps.
3.) Transfer to another bowl and add the sugar. Mix well and allow it to cool for a while.
4.) Add the eggs one at a time and beat into the mixture well (I used a fork). Add the flour and mix well.
5.) Pour the batter into a cake pan with greased butter paper. Bake for 20-25 mins or until the toothpick comes out clean. Turn off the oven and leave the pan inside it until completely cooled. Transfer into a wire rack and allow it to cool completely before frosting.

Note: This cake tastes best the next day. Do not frost the cake until 2-3 hrs before serving.

Ingredients for Frosting:
200 ml and more whipping cream,
3-4 tbsp of confectioners sugar, (more if you want it sweet)

Method:
1.) Whip the cream and sugar using an electric beater on high speed until you get soft peaks. Don't over-whip the cream or it will curdle.
2.) Using a piping bag, pipe the whipped cream on the chocolate cupcakes.
3.) Decorate with coloured sugar granules or cherries(I've used Cadbury's Gems)

Sneek Peek:

It tasted awesome..soft and moist from inside with a slight crunch on the top..and like I said, it tastes divine the next day..so plan for this well in advance!!!


Everybody loved it at home..especially my son..who got the best cupcake of the lot..and the below picture tells you why :)


This is, by far, the most delicious chocolate cupcake I've had...and its very quick to make..I guess it took me just abt 15 mins to put the batter together..Its an absolutely hassle-free, non-messy recipe, and I higly recommened it to all..


I think such a wonderful dessert should be dedicated to all the wonderful woman around the world..who constantly work hard to keep their little world happy with a smile on their face.....always!!!