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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