Friday, 1 September 2017

Beetroot Halwa

The summer this year was glorious,we are back into action after almost 2 months of summer holidays.Living in a hilly area, we get to experience both the extremes,real hot summers and very cold winters.The plants in my balcony love the hot summers and they are a sight to see with their beautiful colours.Here are some of them ...

But the sunflowers really stole the show.I could sit back and watch them preening in their beauty the whole day.There was this poem that I learnt as a kid in school,I remember the opening lines of it..
'Love came to Flora asking for a flower 
That would of flowers be undisputed queen'
The poem is about how the Lily and the Rose think that they are the Queen of flowers,but Flora decides that the Lotus is the Queen of flowers.Though I would rather called Sunflower the queen of Flowers :)

I'm not much of a flower person,but to have a little garden patch with my own vegetables and flowers is definitely on my bucket list !!
So here's a recipe for an equally colourful and beautiful dish.It's very much similar to it's counterpart Carrot Halwa !

You'll Need:
Beetroots (cleaned,scraped and grated) - 4 cups
Boiled Whole Milk - 3 cups
Raisins - 3 tbsp
Cashew nuts - 1 tbsp
Almond slivered - 2 tbsp
Chenna/Paneer/ricotta/Fresh Cheese(crumbled or pulsed in mixer) - 1 cup
Ghee - 4-5 tbsp
Sugar - 1 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp

-In a a wide mouthed non-stick or thick bottomed pan add the ghee,when it heats up add the raisins, cashew nuts and Almonds.Saute until the nuts are slightly browned and the raisins puff up.
-Add the grated Beetroot and saute for 5 - 6 minutes until it's all coated with ghee.
-Add the Milk and mix well.Reduce the flame to medium and let it cook until all the milk evaporates.Keep stirring in between else it tends to stick to the bottom of the vessel.
-Now add the sugar & mix it well.Let it cook until the mixture gets dry.Keep stirring it often.
-Once the mixture appears dry keep stirring it until it turns bright and shiny. This can take around 10 -12 minutes.The mixture will start leaving the sides of the vessel and will clump into a ball.
-Now add the Chenna/Paneer/Cheese and sprinkle the cardamom powder.Stir until the Cheese is well mixed around 5 minutes.Done !

Thanks for stopping by ! Have a colourful day !

Monday, 17 July 2017

Baked French Fries - Baked Pommes

I grew up in the heart of Chennai,where every corner had a crowded place where the vendors sold their hot samosas,different type of vadas and bhajjis in their push carts.The smell of those hot samosas were as much as a part of my childhood ,as the salty smell of Marina's sea Breeze .In my later years in Bangalore ,my favourite street food was almost always boiled or grilled corn on the cob.
Here in Germany,street food or fast food(Imbiss) is mostly Pommes Frites(French Fries) and various types of Wurst(Sausage) dishes.There are quite a few Turkish Döner & Pizza Shops and Chinese places,but typical German food can be found only during Carnivals,Markets and fests,when the streets are lined with Stalls offering other dishes like Reibekuchen(potato pancakes),Fish shops,Schnitzels,Grilled stuff and other local specialities. Bakeries however are quite popular and found at every corner.They are mostly crowded and offer a wide range of stuff from their Brötchens & Breads to cakes & cookies.But if you find a long queue at some place you can be pretty sure that it's for Pommes. It sure makes a pretty fuss free and filling snack or meal.My kids love it with Ketchup and can have it every day without ever getting bored.I make this baked version of Pommes as it's definitely a lot healthier and tastes as yum as the fried ones.I pretty much bake everything,we very rarely fry things.I'll have to blame my Dad for that,though we were surrounded by street food vendors,he hardly let us eat any of those fried goods.And on those rare occasions when he did get us anything from the vendors,he would never let us eat them before he had pressed them between paper towels to get the extra oil out of them :)So if you are not a big fan of fried stuff,this is a real yummy snack.You just need to find potatoes big enough to cut them into thin fingers and then chop them neatly like Chefs in cook shows.Though the only thing I successfully cut when I try to quickly chop like the Chefs are my poor fingers :)
You can add any flavouring of your choice to spice up the dish.So here's another quickie !

You'll Need:
Potatoes - 2 Bit ones(Washed & Peeled)
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Salt ,Pepper and spices as needed.

-Chop the potatoes into Thin fingers.
-Boil a large vessel with water,add salt and a few drops of oil to the boiling water.
-Add the chopped Potatoes to the water and let it cook for 2 mins ,remove them immediately and drain the water.
-Add salt,olive oil and pepper to the potatoes and mix well.
-Heat the oven to 220° C/ and line a baking tray with  a baking paper.Spread the potatoes on them,make sure that they are spread evenly and don't lie on top of each other.
-Bake for 20 - 30 mins,until they are crisp.
-Serve with Ketchup or Mayonnaise.
-You can add different spices like, Chilli powder,Garlic,Curry masala powder to the potatoes before  or after baking them for a more flavourful dish!

Thanks a lot for Stopping by ! Have a nice day !

Tricolour Ice pops

Right from the day I spotted a multi colour Ice pop in the shops,I wanted to try out something similar at home.So one day when I made a Galia Melon-Strawberry-Orange smoothie,I made these pops too.I still don't understand why kids get all excited about a colourful Ice pop,but shun the smoothies made with the same ingredients :)This is such a simple dish that I was sceptical about posting it.I wasn't sure if it qualified for a blog post,but the picture looked so colourful and cute that I decided to go ahead and post it.So the next time you decide to make a colourful smoothie,make sure to save some for these pops:)

Makes 4 Ice pops
You'll Need:
Galia Melon - 1/2 cup (Pureed)
Strawberry Puree - 1/2 cup
Orange Juice- Squeezed from 1 orange
Sugar as needed

-Add sugar to each of the fruit purees/juices as per taste and mix well.
-Fill each of the mould with the Galia melon puree until they fill 1/3rd of the mould.Let if freeze for 40 minutes,take it out and insert the ice cream stick or wooden skewer in each of the mould.Let if further freeze for an hour.
-Take it out and fill each mould with the strawberry puree so that it fills 2/3rd of each mould.Return to the freezer and let it freeze for an hour or two.
-Take it out again and fill the remaining 1/3rd of all the moulds with the orange juice .Return to the freezer and freeze for 2 to 3 hours.
-To serve run or place the mould in hot water and loosen the sides with a sharp knife and remove it from the mould.

Thanks for Stopping by !Have a wonderful day !

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Honey Melon Popsicle(Quickie)

We had one week of heat wave here with the temperatures soaring to almost 38°C,one of the hottest summers I have endured here .The schools even decided to let the children go early, and as always ,Ironically, it started raining and the weather became cool.I still remember how we would wait for the schools to decide to declare a holiday on rainy days.We would paddle in our rubber shoes in the rain water ,with our polished white school shoes safely wrapped in our back pack on all the rainy days.And exactly on the day when the weather forecast people would predict bad rains and the schools decide to declare a holiday ,would the sun shine brightly.It's kind of like nature laughing at our Weather Prediction skills :)

I find the summer here hotter than in Chennai,where the sea breeze makes it a little pleasant.
Well we decided to cool off with these Pops.They make great smoothies actually,I love to drink them while my little ones love the pops.

You'll Need:
Honey Dew Melon -  1/2 a big one
Orange Juice or Lemon Juice - 50 - 75 ml
Quark/Greek Yogurt/Full Fat Yogurt - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1 tbsp or more (if needed)

-Add all the ingredients to a Blender and pulse for a few seconds.Add sugar and blend again if needed.
-Pour in the Popsicle mould and freeze for at least 4 hours.After the first one hour of freezing,stick the ice-cream stick in the middle of each mould.

Thanks for stopping by ! Have a cool day !

Mango Condensed Milk Ice pops - Quickie

This is yet another simple and super yummy Ice Pops,it tastes very similar to mango Kulfi.
Condensed milk is really a wonderful ingredient,you have it at hand and you can make so many delicious desserts in no time.I love this recipe mainly because it doesn't turn very hard like the other Pops and melts in your mouth in no time.I couldn't get a proper click, with one kid trying to eat it before I could click and the scorching heat melting it.My kids somehow believe that anything I click is more delicious than the similar thing that they hold in their hands.Taking a picture when they are around is like participating in Takeshi's castle(Hindi dubbed version),where I have to  simultaneously make sure that one of my kids doesn't run away with the food and the next one doesn't knock everything down in her attempt to make it look better or wanting to pose ,the camera refusing to respond to different modes and the sun(you too Brutus!) hiding behind the clouds :)So off to the pops which calls for very few ingredients and can be whipped up quickly !

Makes about 8 - 10
You'll Need:
Mango pulp - 200 g (from 2 mangoes)
Condensed milk (Sweetened) - 1/2 a tin - 200 g
Heavy cream - 200 ml - about 3/4th a cup
Sugar - if needed

-Add all the ingredients to a Blender and pulse for a few seconds.Add sugar and blend again if needed.
-Pour in the Popsicle mould and freeze for at least 4 hours.After the first one hour of freezing,stick the ice-cream stick in the middle of each mould.
-If you want to make an ice-cream out of the mixture.Pour it into a large bowl and let it freeze.Take it out after one hour of freezing and beat it well with a fork to break the ice crystals,and return to the freeze.Do this repeatedly 3 -4 times in intervals of 1 hour.

Thanks for Stopping by ! Have fun !

Friday, 23 June 2017

Pav Bhaji

Some relationships and things remain the same no matter where you are,irrespective of culture,language and traditional practices.On a lighter note,like how you scare kids by telling them that the Police are on their way or how every kid from every generation will always open a cream biscuit and lick the cream from inside,before eating it :).Coming to relationships ,some of them are mostly tricky,like the ones with your in-laws(did u know a funny anagram of the word Mother-in-law - you'll find it at the end of this post:)), or like the one that I'm going to ramble about,the relationship between a Tenant and the Landlord. Due to its proximity to my School we stayed in a Rented house for a real long time,so I have my fair share of experience with dealing with Landlords.I see extremes when it comes to Landlords.mostly there are the nosy types who can get on your nerves,with their overbearing nature,their surprise visits to make sure that you're taking good care of their house or their unsolicited advice on everything pertaining to the house.On the other hand there are people who treat you almost like family just because you stay in their house.I kind of understand the behaviour of the nosy Landlords,especially when they have to rent out their houses to families with kids.It's very similar to the in-law problem,they just can't easily part with their house/kid and strongly believe that only they know what's good for their house or kid .We stayed for almost 10 years in Germany in an apartment where the landlords stayed on the floor just beneath us.They were an elderly couple who lived alone and my landlady was one of the most wonderful person I've ever met. I've never seen her frown at anything, despite both my kids being owls who kept running around even after midnight.She remembered all our birthdays and always made it a point to leave a thoughtful present at our doorstep.There was always something at our doorstep on every occasion,be it Christmas,Easter,Saint Nicholas day or  my daughter's first day at school.She was our Santa.She was the one who used to give me a pat on my back and asked me to Hang-on,during the days when I used to walk around like a zombie, tired and sleepless after taking care of my little ones .I still remember one particular incident.My Landlady was a very industrious person,she was 64 years old,close to retirement from a good job,her garden was well maintained and the whole building was always spic-and-span.She had a nice collection of paintings which she had hung all around her house and the stair case walls.One day when the kids & I were as usual late for school and we were hurrying, I somehow managed to knock a painting down and shatter it's glass frame and damage the painting.I was really scared to tell her that I had damaged the painting,I still remembered how my mother used to hesitate before knocking on our landlord's house when we children had broken something or how she used to dread her visits to our house.But I had to set an example to my children about doing the right thing,so I hesitantly knocked on the door to apologise.She opened it with her usual smile and I hardly let her speak and started with my Sorry and Excuses for damaging her painting.She listened to me as always ,her expression didn't change a bit, she just said:
'Reni ,nicht schlimm ,Das Schlimmste ist den Krieg'
(Not bad at all,the worst thing that can happen is war)
That was all that happened of that incident.The next week she had replaced the painting and never mentioned it ever again.I still remember her wise words.Guess she's one of those people ,thanks to whom we still believe in humanity and the goodness in people.We moved away from her house before sometime.She almost cried when we told her that we were leaving.We have so many fond and beautiful memories of the house which will stay with us forever.Have you ever noticed how our surroundings,like our home,the people we meet everyday and the memories almost become like a part of us and stays with us.Sometimes I just pray that I remain lucky and meet more beautiful souls !
Coming to the recipe,as you would've guessed,I was supposed to post this along with my previous two posts :) This is one of my favourite dishes,it can be whipped up very quickly and has some many veggies in it.We eat it with just some white Bread toasted in Ghee on days when I don't have Pav Buns around. In fact it even pairs up well with Dosa or Chapati.So off to the recipe !!

Recipe adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor
Serves 4 - 6
You'll Need:
Potato -  2 Large (Boiled,peeled,grated or mashed)
Tomato - 2 Big (finely chopped)
Onion - 2 (finely chopped)
Capsicum - 1 (finely chopped)
Green Peas - 3 - 4 tbsp ( boiled)
Cauliflower - 3 big florets (grated)
Green Chillies - 1 - 2 (finely chopped)
Ginger Garlic paste - 2 - 3 tsp
salt to taste
Oil/Butter/Ghee - 1 -2 tbsp
Butter - 1 Tbsp
Coriander leaves - 1 Tbsp (finely chopped)

-Heat the oil in the pan ,when it heats up add the Onion (save a little for garnishing in the end)and a pinch of salt and saute until it turns translucent. Then add the green chilli and ginger garlic paste and saute for 2-3 minutes.
-Add 3/4 th of the chopped tomatoes and saute until it turns soft.Add a little water if needed and cover and cook on the low flame until the mixture starts oozing out oil.
-Then add the vegetables and about a cup of water,check for salt and add the required amount.Simmer for around 10 minutes.Then mash all the vegetables with the back of the spoon until all of them are well mashed.
-Add the Pav bhaji masala powder and mix well.Add the tomatoes and let the mixture cook on medium heat for 2 - 3 minutes.Take it off the stove.
To serve:
-Toast the Pav buns(split into two) with butter.
-To the bhaji add the Coriander leaves,the saved onion slices,the butter and squeeze a bit of the lemon.


And if you are still looking for that funny Anagram of the word Mother-in-law it is Woman Hitler :p
Thanks for Stopping by ! Have a lovely day !

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Eggless Pav Buns - Eggless Dinner rolls

I would probably call baking the magical part of Cooking.I still remember how I wished to bake a cake even before I got into serious cooking.It fills you with a kind of child like pleasure to mix all the carefully measured ingredients and watch it turn into a beautiful cake,which you could further decorate and beautify. I've never tried to understand the chemistry behind it,though professional bakers would know how the moisture,temperature and alkalinity of the ingredients play a beautiful role in making a delectable baked good.Off late I'm into what I'll call the 'yeast craze' in other words I've started baking buns and breads.It's seriously wonderful to watch the dough puff up and then knock the air out of it and knead and shape to bake into lovely breads and buns,a child would call it magic.I feel that as we grow older we stop noticing the magic around us,it's everywhere in the flowers that suddenly pop up after months of cold winter, in the clouds that form lovely shapes as they move ,everywhere around us in nature.But as we get older ,responsibilities and tough times,kind of takes the magic out of life.Sometimes when I look into the mirror,I wonder what happened to the younger careless person who used to look back.Life hasn't taken the optimism out of me,but it's definitely made me more realistic.The other day I was walking around with my daughter on a nice warm day ,when we passed along this house with a huge garden and a tree house,swing and everything that a  kid would wish for.My daughter looked at it and told me
                   'Mummy,how I wished we had it'.
I,being the boring mother who wouldn't miss the chance to teach my child about life and values,promptly started lecturing her with 
             'There will always be people with things better than us,we should learn to be happy with what we have as every little thing that we have is a blessing'
And then the righteous mature realist in me woke up and I added
              'Moreover we don't have that kind of money'
She looked at me for a moment and said enthusiastically 
'Mummy but we don't money,we only need a magic wand'
It was then that it hit me,that no amount of reading Harry potter books was going to save me,I was getting old :).I guess to stay happy ,it's very important to keep the child in you alive and your soul young.I know that that's more easier said than done,when your running around the whole day with kids to take care of,keeping a house,work and combating weight gain,hair loss and every other problem that seems to pop up with each passing year,the last thing you think about is magic(and clouds):)But guess all of us have to make time for something which we find magical.Baking is my way of keeping the magic alive,I bake a lot although I hardly post any of it,cause we end up eating most of the stuff when it's hot out of the oven :)So off to the recipe....         

Makes about 10 - 12
You'll need:
All purpose Flour - 250 g
Milk - 200 ml
Yeast - 2 tsp - 4 gm
Sugar - 1 Tbsp
Butter - 4 Tbsp
salt - 1 tsp
Some butter,oil and milk to brush

-Warm the milk,make sure it's lukewarm and not hot,add the yeast and sugar and mix well.Let it sit for 10 - 15 minutes.After 15 minutes the mixture should be frothy.If not please make a new mixture,as fresh or good yeast would froth.
-Add the Flour,salt and mix well.Add the frothy yeast mixture and knead with your hand,or with a dough hook on your beater .knead until the mixture starts coming together.It will be sticky.
-Now add the butter and further knead for a few minutes.
-Now dust your hands with flour and knead the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes,it will a bit sticky,but knead without adding any extra flour.
-Then keep it in a big bowl and cover with a damp cloth or Plastic foil and let it rise in a warm place until it is double it's size.
-Now take it out punch and knead again for a few minutes,adding very little flour if needed.Divide the dough into 12- 14 pieces and shape it into small balls and arrange them on a greased/lined with baking paper.Place them about 2- 3 cm apart,pretty close.Cover them with a damp cloth and let them again rise in a warm place for an hour.For Hamburger buns you can round them and place them a little more apart,like the ones in my picture.
-Preheat the oven for 10 minutes at 200° C.Carefully remove the damp cloth since it tends to stick.Brush with a little milk and bake for 15 minutes at 200°C.
-Then take them out,brush them with a little butter and let them cool.

Note:If you stay in a cool place,to let the dough rise:
-you can keep them near the heater (or)
-Preheat the oven at the lowest temperature for a few minutes,then switch it off and only switch on the oven light and let the dough rise inside the oven.

Thanks for stopping by ! Have a nice time Baking!

Pav Bhaji Masala Powder

I'm old school when it comes to cooking,I still believe in making my own spice mixes and preserves at home.After living for almost 10 years away from India ,in a small city with a tiny Asian shop,I felt outdated when I looked at the products stocked on the shelves of the Indian shop here,I felt like someone who was returning back home after years in exile.The market is flooded with products ,there seems to be a ready mix and spice powder for every dish.As much as I'd agree that it would make the job of a busy person easy,I still strongly believe that nothing beats the flavours that a homemade spice mix infuses in a dish.I remember going as a kid along with my mother to the big Grain Mills to grind rice flour and spice powder.It used to be one of those sultry places with the smell of spice powders clinging heavily in the air. There are few of those mills left around now with many people opting for ready made stuff.My mom still grinds her powders in these mills and packs me with them when I visit her.Despite being a working mother she still found or made time for these little chores because she strongly believes, that these things which appear to be trivial actually play an important  role in our health.So anything ready made was very rare in our house ,just like eating out :) I usually stock a little of this spice powder in my cupboard,I love sprinkling a pinch of it in many quick dishes.I make it in small batches to keep the flavour fresh.So off to the recipe !

You'll Need:
Recipe Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor
Armchoor Powder/Dry Mango Powder  - 3 Tbsp
Whole Pepper Corns - 1 tsp
Whole red Chilli - 20 - 25
Cumin Seeds -  4 tbsp
Cinnamon sticks - 10 ( each 3 cm)
Salt - 2 tsp
Black Salt - 1/4 tsp
Cloves - 40 - 50
Curry leaves - 10 - 12
Bay Leaves - 4
Fennel Seeds - 2 tbsp
Salt - 2 tsp

-In a pan on low heat,dry roast the ingredients either one after the other separately or together until they release a nice aroma,Make sure that they don't get burnt.
-Let them cool and grind to a fine powder
-Store in an airtight container

Thanks for Stopping by ! Happy Cooking !

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Mutton Curry

  This curry is one of my favourites,I pretty often prepare it at home.I found this recipe in the book Rick Stein's India.This book is really worth a read, you easily get infected with his enthusiasm and passion for Indian food,or what he calls his 'search for the perfect curry'.The book has so many beautiful pictures, not just the usual ones found in books with perfect props and lighting.But very realistic ones too,which perfectly capture the vivid essence and atmosphere of India,the markets with their bountiful produce,the busy roads and people with their earthly,simple expressions.I'm a big fan of his cooking and as I recalled my favourite Chefs I was surprised to find that the list had a lot of men and hardly a few women.Ironically the word Chef in English doesn't even have a female version. I love the German language when it comes to these things,it has no ambiguities,Chefkoch-Chefköchin(Male Chef - Female Chef).I'm not trying to be a feminist ,that's probably one of the most clichéd and misunderstood topics these days :) But surprisingly the recent list of top 10 Chefs around the world,which even had our own Vikhas Khanna on the list doesn't have any women on it.I'd definitely agree that times have changed and men don't look at cooking anymore as only a women's job.It's nice to see most of them pitch in and cook a meal or two sometimes or help around the house.But still I guess in most homes,the major part of the cooking or most of it is still done by women ,irrespective of whether she's a home maker or a working women.I feel that it sometimes takes the joy out of cooking when it becomes a responsibility.I'd call it one of the most thankless jobs around,making sure that there's proper food on the table 3 times a day and everyone is well fed,is a huge responsibility ,but it's not very often recognised or appreciated.What's more funny is that women would still go on doing it contently and happily everyday ,cause that's the way we are wired :)Wonder how often Sanjeev Kapoor and Vikhas Khanna cook at home :P.So off to the recipe,I've slightly tweaked it to suit my quick everyday cooking style,the original recipe calls for overnight marination and about 3 hours of slow cooking  !!

Serves - 4 -6
You'll Need:
To Marinate:
Ginger and Garlic Grated - 1 tsp each.
Mutton - 400 g
Curd - 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
salt a little

Tomato - 1 big one or 2 med ones
Cashew nuts -  1 tbsp
Cardamom  - 2
Cloves - 3
Cinnamom - 1 big piece
Bayleaf - 1
Onions - 1 large( finely chopped)
Coriander powder - 3/4 tbsp
Chilli Powder - 1/2 tbsp
Garam Masala Powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste(coarse ) - 2 tsp
Coconut milk - 3 - 4 tbsp(optional)
Oil - 2 tbsp
salt as needed

-Marinate the Mutton with the yogurt,turmeric powder and ginger garlic for at least 1 hours,you can also marinate it overnight in the refrigerator.
-In a small vessel add the roughly chopped tomatoes and the cashew nuts and add half a cup of water or more.Let the mixture cook for 5 - 7 minutes.Let it cook and grind to a fine paste.
-To a pressure cooker on medium heat add the oil and when it heats up add the cardamom,cloves and cinnamon and saute it for a few seconds.
-Then add the onion and fry it on a low flame with a pinch of salt for 5 - 10 minutes until they are well browned.Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute,Add the powder and saute for a minute.
-Then add the mutton pieces and some salt and saute for 5 minutes until they are browned.You can add a little water if it gets too dry.
-Add the tomato and cashew puree and saute for a minute,add the bay leaves and add salt it needed.Add about 1/2 - 3/4th cup of water and mix well.
-Now close the pressure cooker and cook until it whistles once on medium flame and for 10 - 20 minutes on low flame(until it's well cooked and soft).The cooking time will be lesser if you have marinated it overnight.
-Take the pressure cooker off the stove and let it cool for a bit.Remove the lid and add the coconut milk and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Done !

Thanks for stopping by ! Happy Cooking !

Monday, 3 April 2017

Frozen Elsa Birthday Cake - Chocolate Walnut Cake

If you were to ask me what I loved about the movie 'Frozen',there would be a real long list,but these three things would definitely top the list.The movie taught little girls that they don't have to wait for their knight in shining armour to save them and true love doesn't always have to be something to do with 'the special one'.I really pity all those helpless fairy tales Princesses who were trapped in towers,cursed or slept for a hundred years until their Prince came along.And honesty I pity the Princes too, who had to fight fire spitting dragons and wicked witches to save the Princess and marry them,only to end up being nagged :)Reminds me when my daughter asked me why all the fairy tales end with 'And they lived happily ever after',guess it should rather be 'And they happily bickered ever after' :P.The second thing I love about the movie is how it brought the colour 'Blue' in the otherwise Pink dominated girl's world.I really wonder who ever came up with these gender based colour notions.Thanks to frozen, it's nice to see so many blue clothes for girls in shops.And the usual pink-Princess filled kids carnival has quite a bit of blue now.My daughter's kindergarten had so many Elsa's during the carnival,there was even a sweet little boy who was dressed up as Elsa.If there's one other thing I love about the movie it's the song 'Let it go'.I'm not talking about the wonderful music or the voice,but the lyrics.Be it 'it's funny how some distance can make everything seem small' or 'to test the limits and break through' or 'the perfect girl is gone',the song is probably one of the most powerful songs I've heard in recent times.I love the other songs in the movie as well,but this one's simply the best.
Thankfully,we are now officially out of the 'Frozen' craze phase ,no more Frozen caps,clips,dresses or shoes :)I wonder what will come along next.I baked this cake for my daughter's 5th Birthday,when she was all into Frozen.I'm very bad when it comes to cake decorating and I respect all those cake decorators who so patiently create those edible wonders.This was my attempt at decorating with fondant.Though I'm not a big fan of Fondant,I must agree that it helps you create beautiful cakes.The cake was a Chocolate Walnut Cake,frosted and filled with Chocolate Ganache and covered with Fondant.The cake is rich and delicious,a perfect Party cake.Believe me, if you like me,are a beginner at cake decorating,this one's easy to make and simply yummy !

You'll Need:
A small barbie doll,whose legs are detached.
Blue Fondant - 750 gm -  1 Kg
White Fondant - a little
For the Cake :
You will need approximately twice the batter
(Adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes )
All-Purpose Flour - 2 cups- 230 gm
Sugar - 1 and 1/4 cup - 250 gm
Butter - 225 g ( at room temperature)
Eggs - 3 large (at room temperature)
Sour Cream - 1 cups - 250 gm
Baking Powder- 1 and 1/4 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Cocoa powder - 3/4 cup - 56 gm
Walnuts - 2/3 cup - 66 gm
Vanilla essence - 2 tsp
Ganache for Filling:
Heavy Cream - 200 g
Dark Baking chocolate - 200 g(broken into small pieces)
Ganache for Frosting:
Heavy Cream - 300 g
Dark Baking chocolate - 600 g(broken into small pieces)

For the cake.
-I baked them in 3 layers and in one small dome shaped bowl for the dress shape.
-It is better to bake the cake and let it cool overnight,covered by a clean linen cloth.
-Pre-heat the oven to 350°F/175 ° C and spread  the walnuts on a baking tray and bake for 5 -7 minutes.Take it out the oven and cool and grind to a coarse powder.Make sure to grind in pulses else they suddenly turn into a paste.
-In a small bowl whisk the sour cream,eggs,cocoa and essence slightly.
-In a big bowl beat the flour,walnuts ,sugar,baking powder,baking soda and salt for 30 sec on low speed.
-Add half of the whisked cocoa liquid mixture and the butter and beat on low speed until everything is moistened.Increase the speed to medium and beat for another minute or two.Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for another 30 secs.
-Add the remaining cocoa liquid mixture in two parts,beating for 30 seconds after each addition
-Fill the pans until 3/4th full and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F/175 ° C for 30 - 40 minutes.The baking time varies depending upon the pan type,size and the oven.It can take anywhere between 30 - 50 minutes.A small skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.Make sure you line the pans with baking paper and apply some butter and toss some four on the sides.
-After the cake is cooled in the pan for 5 minutes,loosen the sides and take the cake out.
-In a double boiler,start boiling some water.Now place a bowl with the cream and the broken chocolate on the double boiler such that the bottom of the vessel doesn't touch the water.On low heat as the water simmers let the chocolate melt,mix it gently once or twice with a fork.Once the chocolate is almost melted,remove it from the stove and mix well with the fork so that there are no lumps.Now let it cool overnight until it reaches room temperature.
-Make the Ganache for frosting and filling separately and let them cool overnight,covered with a plastic foil.
-Roll the blue fondant to a big round .

-Bake three round layers (I baked 15 cm x 4 cm )of the cake.And another small pan or bowl with the cake batter,to get the dome shape.Insert a skewer in the base of the Doll so that it can be placed on the cake.

-Place the cake layers ,one on top of each other filling the layers with the 'Filling Ganache'.Finally place the dome shape.Now carve the cake in the front side of the doll to make a slightly vertical surface,this is the area where the dress (Fondant) falls straight,it has a hump at the back,the dome  takes care of the hump.
-Now frost the cake smoothly with the 'Frosting Ganache'.Gently lift the fondant and place it over the cake and arrange it to look like the dress.Cut some more pieces of rolled white and blue fondant to make the dress for the upper body.
-The rolling and lifting the fondant can be a bit tricky.

-The sour cream can be replaced with thick yogurt,this is one more substitute that I found online:
Homemade sour cream: Mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (leaving it overnight gives best results)

This is yet another version of the Chocolate Walnut Cake :

Thanks for Stopping by ! Happy Baking !

Friday, 10 March 2017


  As an avid reader I would say that there's nothing like the joy of discovering a new author.You would have come across a lot of authors, but there are only a few authors,who with their narration would literally teleport you inside the book.It leaves you with a feeling of not reading but actually watching things unfold in front of your eyes.I recently got to read the book 'Temple' by 'Mathew Reilly',If you enjoy reading fast paced thrillers, where CIA agents go chasing the bad guys with guns drawn and their Hi-Tech devices,you would definitely love this book.The story-line alternates between current happenings and happenings during the Spanish occupation in Peru in the 14th century.It's the historical touch that makes the book very special.I am a big fan of History,I believe that History,like science is one of those things that makes you realise that you are a very tiny part of a big Universe ,but you're still significant.The story is about the search for an Idol worshipped by the Incas,which was carved from a meteorite that hit the earth before a long time.The Idol was hence believed to have rare nuclear properties which could  be used to make a destructive weapon.The Incas on the other hand are waiting for the chosen man who would save them and their idol,thereby fulfilling their old prophecy.The story starts with the search of a manuscript which holds the secret hiding place of the Idols.The book takes you back to the period of the Incas,one of the largest and most interesting civilisations. The book gives you a glimpse of everything about the Incas,like how they never used Mortar to construct their Temples,but instead used interlocking stones to build air tight structures or about their sacred animal,the Rapa. I couldn't help thinking about the similarities between Indian mythology and the Inca civilisation,like the belief about how moles on the face have a significance or the construction of their temples,or the usage of the trident , the weapon of Lord Shiva in India and the weapon of Poseidon in Greek Mythology.I wonder how the book has not yet been made into a movie.Though I guess a few Tamil movies like Ayirathil Oruvan and Mundasupatti seem to be inspired from the book :) The book also talks a bit about the atrocities done by the so called Developed or First world countries during their colonisation and occupation in the third world or under developed countries,which makes you think that the word civilisation needs to be redefined. It was an amazing read and once I was done reading the book, I felt like I was back from a trip to South America. I've been reading quite a few interesting books and will soon come back with another one !!
  Coming to the recipe this is one of my all time favourite sweets.It's usually confused with Jalebi,but I would call it a lot healthier(if you ignore the frying and the soaking in the sugar syrup:)) because it's made from Urad dal. It takes a bit of patient cooking ,but it's worth the effort.The cloth press makes all the difference,it doesn't take a lot of time to make,but makes the job very easy.So off to the recipe !!

Makes about 30
You'll Need:
To soak and grind :
Urad Dal/Black Gram Dal -  1 cup
Raw Rice - 1/4 cup
Red colour a pinch
salt a pinch
For the sugar syrup:
Sugar - 1 1/2 to 2 cups
Red colour powder - a pinch
Rose essence -1 tsp or Rose water - 2 tbsp
Water -  2 cups

Oil to deep fry
A thick cloth to make the press

For the press:
-Take a thick cloth and make a tiny hole with a scissor,and them sew around the hole like a button hole to make the hole tight and give it a shape.The total diameter of the hole should be about the diameter of a real big nail,not  more.
For the Batter:
-Soak urad dal and rice in water(the water level should be about an inch above the rice and urad dal) for an hour.
-In a Grinder add the urad dal and rice and add about two tbsps of water.(Drain the excess water from the urad dal after soaking and you can use this water to add during grinding)
-Grind under the mixture turns coarse but fluffy. Sprinkle water in little quantities as you grind,the total quantity of water should be a maximum of quarter cup.Be careful about the water as it can make the batter runny.
-Now remove the batter from the grinder and add the red colour powder into it and mix well.
For the syrup:
-In a pan mix the water and the sugar and let it boil on medium heat for 3 -5 minutes and,until all the sugar is dissolved and it starts getting thick,it shouldn't be very thick.Add the colour powder and essence and take it off the stove.

For the Jangeri:
-In a wide mouthed pan, on low to medium heat,heat about 1 to 2 inches of oil .The oil should not smoke or get too hot.It works well when the oil is not too hot.Now start piping the Jangeris. Pipe two big circles and tiny circles around it.Meanwhile keep the sugar syrup warm near by ,it should be warm.If it gets thick you can add some water to it,but make sure it is warm.Cook the Jangeris,flipping them on both sides.Then take the Jangeris out and drop them in the sugar syrup,let them soak for a minute and take them out and store them.Make sure that the Jangeris don't get browned.I found that you can even remove the pan with the oil from the stove if it gets too hot and put it back again,And the sugar syrup has to be warm while dipping,else it doesn't work well.The piping gets easier after you've piped a few Jangeris.

Thanks for stopping by ! Happy cooking !

Friday, 10 February 2017

Rose Cake

Guess if you've been following my blog you would have by this time got fed up with my disappearing act.This time apart from the usual excuses like kids sick,holidays,laziness ,I have a new excuse:We moved to a new city.Little did I expect moving to be so difficult,it took me weeks to dig out the modem which I had safely packed in an unlabelled box.Not to mention my kids making moving things from one labelled box to another a game,which made unpacking even harder.I think moving is easy if you are the kind of person who easily parts with things.I have a serious problem with throwing away things.Every little legless doll, broken toy ,book full of scribblings,old dress and twisted spoon  is usually associated with a fond memory and packed away safely.I try to save each and every paper and book that I enjoyed reading,which made shifting a nightmare.Shifting taught me a very important lesson for life:to keep things as simple as possible.During the past few months there was a phase when we had to stay in our old house in just one room with sparse furniture for almost a month.Most of our stuff ,including the TV was shifted to the new one.The kids had no toys,just one or two of their favourites, and they seemed to be pretty happy.Mainly because we were spending more time with them .It was then that I realised that most of the things that we pile up are extravagances and what we actually need is very little.We are caught in this whirlpool of buying and updating things that we never actually stop to enjoy the simpler things in life.And some times we let these materialistic things even define us.It reminds me of a strange dream that I once had,I am one of those people who remember their dreams,that's a blessing and a bane :) In this dream I was near a small stream and before me ,people were crossing the stream barefoot on stepping stones.They had just a small cloth pack in their hands.As I approached the river an old man came up to me and told me that once I cross the stream, I won't be able to come back .So I could go back and get three things which matter the most to me to carry along,cause I won't be needing anything else on the other side.Then I woke up.What would you pick if you just had to take three things with you :) Makes me wonder if it is really all that easy to keep things simple.Well the truth is always hard to handle.Guess this turned out to be a philosophical post:)Lots seem to have happened since I last posted .USA has a new president,Jallikattu is back and Tamil Nadu politics has become more thrilling than Game of thrones,I really wonder who'll sit on the Iron Throne :) And hope I'd get to post more regularly !
Coming to the recipe,this cake is for those people who love Rose essence and  rose flavour..The cake is extremely soft and spongy and uses very little butter.It looks very appealing when baked in a rose cake form.So off to the recipe !

Serves : 8 - 10
Adapted from : Martha Stewart Cakes
You'll Need:
Butter - 100 gm -Little less than 1/2 a cup
All purpose flour/Maida - 1 1/2 cups
Baking Powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Eggs - 3 large(room temperature)
Sugar - 200 gm - 1 cup
Whole Milk - 125 ml - 1/2 cup
Rose Water -  5 Tbsp

-In a big bowl sift the Flour,Baking Powder and salt.
-In another bowl beat the eggs and sugar until it turns fluffy,3 - 5 minutes.
-Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Butter the cake form and dust it with flour (rose form or 9" round form)
-In a small pan ,heat the butter and the milk on low flame until the butter is melted and small bubbles start appearing.
-Now add the sifted flour to the egg&sugar mixture and beat until well combined in medium speed.
-With the beater on medium speed add the milk and butter mixture and beat until well combined.
-Add the rose water and beat for a few seconds.
-Fill the baking pan with the mixture until 3/4th full and bake for 30 - 40 minutes,until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.Let it cool on the pan for 10 minutes,then loosen the sides ,remove it from the pan and let it cool completely.Done !

Thanks for stopping by ! Happy Baking !

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