Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Urmi's Microwave Coconut Barfi

I am particularly late with this post! A sudden unplanned trip to New York City last Sunday totally messed up our routines! We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 day trip (even though it was not a vacation), walking the streets of my second-most favorite city in the world (after Kolkata, of course), eating street food, re-living our memories and making new ones with our son!
Urmi Ghosh of Ume's Kitchen is the star of this week! I am yet to meet her, but she sure comes across as a sweet soul with a very sweet smile! Mom to a very cute 4 year old, she has recently launched her home bakery and is baking some pretty amazing cakes! Do check out her page
Sunday we celebrated Saraswati Pujo here and I had signed up to make chutney. While I was making tomato chutney on Saturday night, the 5 year old pranced into the kitchen, sniffing and singing , "I smell mishti! I smell mishti!" It was his bedtime, so I send him off with the promise of making him some soon! 
Urmi's Microwave Coconut Barfis is the perfect fix for the sudden "I want mishti" pangs! However, it took me three tries before I got it right. If you are planning to make it, do babysit it the first time. Depending on the microwave power, the time of cooking will most definitely vary. What worked for me might not for you. Also, since I was using desiccated coconut instead of fresh, I had to add more liquid than suggested in the recipe. I also adjusted the amount of sugar and cardamom powder according to our taste, and  omitted saffron and yellow food color that Urmi has used. 

Urmi's Microwave Coconut Barfi


Ingredients: Yield - 4
  • Coconut - 1/2 Cup
  • Ghee - 1 tsp
  • Cardamom Powder - 3/4 tsp
  • Sugar 2 tbsp 
  • Sugar - 2 tbsp
  • Milk - 1/3 Cup
  • Slivered almonds for garnish
Grease a container or a deep dish and set aside.
In a microwavable bowl, mix the coconut and ghee together and nuke it for a total of 2 to 3 minutes. You absolutely need to stir it at the 1 minute mark and then every 45 seconds. Add the milk, sugar and cardamom powder to and mix well. I had to cook it for a total of 4 minutes - cooked for 2 minutes first, and then in increments of 1 minute, stirring and scraping the sides of the bowl each time. Overcooking will cause it to harden. Spread it out on the greased container and press it down gently using the back of a spoon. Let it set for at least an hour, cut into diamond shapes and serve. Store leftovers in airtight container. 


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cilbir: Turkish Poached Egg inspired by Manjari

When Manjari (of For the Love of Food) joined Kolkata Food Bloggers close to a year back, she was pretty new to the blogosphere. A quick learner, she has come a long way since then. A junior from school, she is also my schoolmate's cousin - talk about it being a small world! 
When Manjari shared her Cilbir (pronounced Chilber) recipe, I remembered the saveur.com Cilbir recipe that I had come across early last year. Poached eggs served with garlic infused yogurt and topped with melted butter, dill leaves and paprika sounded so fascinating! I did a little more digging around and I found that "Çılbır is a Turkish dish of poached eggs with yogurt (often with garlic mixed in). There are records of çılbır being eaten by Ottoman sultans as far back as the 15th century. It is now common to serve the dish topped with melted butter infused with Aleppo pepper, for which paprika can be substituted." (Source Wikipedia). 
I had also bookmarked this particular recipe, which co-incidentally is the one Manjari's recipe is inspired by as well. Then I forgot all about it, till Manjari shared hers. She, however, chose not to use the garlic. Find her recipe here: Cilbir

Cilbir: Turkish Poached Egg inspired by Manjari

Ingredients: Serving 1
  • Eggs - 2 large, at room temperature
  • Vinegar - 1 tbsp
  • Water - 4 to 5 Cups
  • Greek Yogurt - 1/2 Cup 
  • Paprika - 1 tsp
  • Butter - 1/2 tbsp 
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper - 1/4 tsp, freshly cracked
  • Garlic - 1 clove, finely minced 
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced (optional)
  • Dried mint leaves - a couple of fat pinches (I did not have any hand so had to skip!)

In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt and minced garlic. You can skip the garlic if you want, but the garlic-y yogurt tastes so good. 
Heat a pan and melt the butter in it on medium-low heat. Once the butter starts sizzling, add the paprika and let it cook for about 30 seconds. Set it aside.
Bring the water, vinegar and salt to boil in a medium saucepan. Once it starts boiling. reduce the heat. Crack each egg into a small bowl and gently slide them in one by one into the hot water. Make sure that the water is not boiling. Cook it for 3 or 4 minutes if you prefer your yolks runny. For a more cooked yolk, cook for at least 5 minutes or so. Using a slotted spoon fish out the eggs. Shake off as much water as possible (very gently) and transfer onto a plate.
Spoon the yogurt on top of the poached eggs and pour the butter on it. Crack some black pepper, sprinkle a little sea salt and serve with warm Pita or Turkish Pide Bread. 

Recipe adapted from here: Almost Turkish 

I am sending this to Know Your Blogger event 


Monday, January 05, 2015

Hot Chocolate for my Sweetheart!

Hot Chocolate for one

Today is the last day of winter break! The 5 year old will be heading back to school tomorrow! What better way to end a wonderful break with some Hot Chocolate that I made just for him! 

Over the winter break, we had loads of fun baking, cooking, partying  and just having plain awesome time with friends! We went on a road trip, reconnected with friends who are more like family, and came back rejuvenated souls! It was such a refreshing little break! 
As much as I look forward to the 'me time', I really miss the Little Champ when he is not around! Source of endless happiness he's not! I feel a medley of things when he's around - amusement, anger, frustration, happiness, pride - but sadness is not on that list! And that is what I love about kids - their amazing ability to pull us out from the 'depths of despair' with a simple toothy smile or a sloppy kiss!

Hot Chocolate for One

This is a very easy recipe and the result is oh-so-good! It is rich and luscious and terribly delicious! A few ingredients and you have yourself a perfect little treat!

Ingredients
  • Milk (of your choice) - 1 Cup
  • Semi-sweet Chocolate - 2 ounces, chopped (I used Ghiradelli baking bar)
  • Vanilla Extract - 1/4 tsp
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder - 1/2 tbsp (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Marshmallows - 2 or 3 (optional)
Heat the milk on low heat and bring it to a simmer. Take it off the heat and add the chopped chocolate pieces. Let it rest for a minute or two. Whisk it briskly till all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is silky smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract, add a pinch of salt and mix. If you prefer a more intense chocolaty flavor, add the cocoapowder.
Since the Little Champ had specially requested that his 'Hot Chocolate' be at room temperature, I did have time to take the photos. If you prefer, heat it up a little before serving it. Throw in a couple of marshmallows, if you wish! 

Hot Chocolate for my Sweetheart!



Recipe adapted from epicurious.com

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Eggless Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Cup with M&Ms

Ringing in the year on a sweet note with these cute cuppies, albeit a few days late! How can I not get excited about these easy to make kid-friendly desserts. Double Chocolate Cookie cups filled with chocolate ganache and topped with M&Ms. The name itself is enough to make the mouth water! The kids were delighted, and the husband wanted one too! I have adjusted the recipe to make 4 cookie cups. The recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Eggless Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Cup with M&Ms

Ingredients: Yield 4
  • All Purpose Flour - 6 tbsp
  • Butter - 2 tbsp
  • Granulated Sugar - 2 tbsp
  • Brown Sugar - 2 tbsp
  • Cornstarch - 3/4 tsp
  • Water - 1/2 tbsp
  • Vanilla Extract - 1/4 tsp
  • Baking Soda - 1.4 tsp
  • Cocoa Powder - 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Salt - a fat pinch (1/8 tsp)
  • Mini Chocolate Chips - 2 tbsp
  • Coffee Granules - a pinch (optional)
  • M&Ms - 1/3 Cup (more or less, I did not really measure, sorry!)
For the chocolate ganache:
  • Chocolate Chips 3 tbsp
  • Butter - 1 tsp
  • Milk - 1 tsp
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a muffin tin with butter and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the butter and sugars till smooth. Add the cornstarch mix, vanilla extract and coffee granules and give it another good whisk. Now add flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa and combine, gently. Fold in chocolate chips. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and press down into the prepped muffin tin. Bake for about 8 minutes, take the muffin pan out and using the back of a spoon or something round (refer here) press down to make a cup. Return to the oven and bake for another 4 or 5 minutes, till done. If required, press down again while the cookie is still warm. Let it cool till the cookie cups firm up and then transfer to a cooling rack. Once completely cooled down, fill with M&Ms, ice-cream , Nutella or chocolate ganache and serve.

Cheers to a wonderful new year!

Recipe adapted from: Dinner-Mom

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Alton Brown's Fruit Cake

Holidays are here. I am not baking as much like I had planned to. Half of my counter-top is cluttered with various baking supplies. I had been bookmarking recipes for almost two months and had a pretty long list of Holiday baking. Unfortunately, I am still nursing a sore arm (from flared up tennis elbow), which starts hurting at the slightest notion of work. Talk about bad timing! But I did manage to bake some fruit cakes and some sugar cookies with little help from the husband. I followed Alton Brown's 'Free Range Fruit Cake' recipe almost to the tee, with a little change here and there. Preposterous, I know! Altering the recipe of Alton Brown! But for once I wanted to enjoy my fruit cake without having to dig out the assortment of nuts I am allergic to. Also, I thought I had no allspice berries so used ground Jamaican allspice instead. I completely forgot about the bottle of whole mulling spices that I had picked up from Wholefoods. All I had to do was fish out a few and pounded it away to glory. I wasn't kidding when I said that I have been pretty muddled in the noggin. Duh!

Alton Brown's Fruit Cake

I baked small loaf pans and mini bundt pans, so it took me less time than it would have if I had baked the entire thing together.

Alton Brown's Fruit Cake


Ingredients:

  • Golden Raisins - 1 Cup
  • Currants - 1 Cup
  • Dried Cranberries - 1/2 Cup
  • Dried Blueberries - 1/2 Cup
  • Dried Cherries - 1/2 Cup
  • Dried Apricots - 1/2 Cup, coarsely chopped
  • Zest of one large lemon
  • Zest of one large orange
  • Candied Ginger - 1/4 Cup, chopped
  • Rum - 1 Cup (I used
  • Granulated Sugar - 1 Cup
  • Butter - 1 1/4 Stick, unsalted
  • Unfiltered Apple Juice - 1 Cup (you can use apple cider as well)
  • Ground Jamaican Allspice - 1 tsp (or 4 whole cloves and 6 whole allspice berries, ground)
  • Ground Cinnamon - 1 tsp
  • Ground Ginger - 1 tsp
  • All Purpose Flour - 1 3/4 Cup
  • Salt - 1 1/2 tsp
  • Baking Soda - 1 tsp
  • Baking Powder - 1 tsp
  • Eggs - 2 large, at room temperature
  • Slivered Almonds - 1/2 Cup (original recipe asked for toasted pecans, roughly chopped. You can use walnuts as well)
  • Brandy or Rum for basting or spritzing - I used brandy to baste my cakes

Alton Brown's Fruit Cake

In a bowl, mix together the dried fruits, orange and lemon zests, and candied ginger. Add the rum and macerate it overnight. Alternately, you can nuke the rum & fruit mixture in the microwave for 5 or 6 minutes to re-hydrate the fruits. I prefer macerating it overnight. 

In a medium saucepan, bring the rum & fruit mixture along with the apple juice, sugar, butter and spices to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool for at least 15 or 20 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 325 F.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the fruit mixture and using a wooden spoon bring everything together gently. Stir in the eggs, one by one till completely incorporated and and then fold in the nuts. Spoon the batter into greased and floured loaf pan and bake for an hour. The batter is going to be thick. Insert a toothpick in the middle to check for done-ness. If it comes out clean, you are done. If not, keep baking in increments of 5 minutes. 

I used 4 small loaf pans and 2 mini bundt pans which I greased and floured, started checking every 5 minutes after 30 minutes. The mini bundt cakes were done in 35 minutes and the mini loaf pans took about 40 minutes. 

Once done, take the pans out of the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack before trying to take the cakes out of the pans. Baste or spritz with brandy or rum before storing in an airtight container. Baste or spritz with brandy or rum every 2 to 3 days if the cake looks dry. I let the cakes develop its flavors for about 7 to 10 days before gifting them to friends. If possible, allow 2 weeks time. 

I am sending this to Kolkata Food Bloggers' Christmas event. 


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mulled Apple Cider

Winter night. Cuddled up on the sofa under a warm fuzzy blanket. Favorite show on the TV. Can it get any better. Oh yes! It can! How about a glass of warm Apple Cider? Along with a slice of booze-laced Fruit Cake. Last week was a bad one health-wise. I am still in the recovery mode, but getting better with each passing day! So to pick me up from the dumps I treated myself to these sweet things two nights in a row!  There's something about this warm concoction with a hint of spice that makes you feel oh-so-good and fuzzy!

Mulled Apple Cider

Ingredients: Serves 2 
  • Unfiltered Apple Juice - 2 Cups
  • Honey - 2 tbsp
  • Cinnamon Stick - 1
  • Ground Clove - a pinch
  • Allspice berries - 3
  • 3-4 thin slices of orange
Place everything in a medium saucepan and on medium-high heat bring it to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and let the concoction simmer for at least 20 minutes. Serve warm... with a slice of Fruit Cake, may be!



Monday, December 15, 2014

Pritha's Chicken Roll

I am so very late with this post for the star of the week Pritha Chakrabarty of Guilt Free! I had all good intentions of making Chicken Roll for our anniversary dinner last Tuesday. But Tuesday morning found me otherwise indisposed. My tennis elbow had flared up which forced me to go off using my right arm for three straight days. My tonsils were the size of golf balls and I had lost my voice. For three days I could barely whisper a sentence or two every couple of hours. I guess that was the best anniversary gift I could have given the husband - no hounding or harrying for three full days! He must have had the time of his life! I can talk now, but I sound 'weird' - the 5 year old keeps reminding me that. And so does everyone that I talk to on the phone. I like to think of it as my 'sexily husky' or 'huskily sexy' voice (are those even adjectives?! The noggin's been kinda muddled)

About Pritha. A journalist by profession, she blogs from Guilt Free. Bubbly and vivacious, she always has this twinkle in her eyes which will make one like her almost instantly! Even though I have not met her in person, I have a sneaky feeling that she has a hearty infectious laughter. She might be a newcomer on the blogging front, but she has some killer recipes on her blog. She loves to play with flavors, try out new things and is so committed. She did a 30-day Eat like a Bong series where she covered 30 quintessentially Bengali recipes in 30 days. In a row! What a tremendous feat! This Chicken Roll is from that series, and it turned out SO awesome. And I have followed her recipe almost to the tee.

I know the husband for 18 years now! More than half of my lifetime. Phew! His cousin (and my friend) introduced us on fateful day way back in 1996 (I was still in school then, and he had just started college). Resources were sparse when we started dating but we would almost always end up in an eatery. And almost always he would order a Chicken Roll. I would always settle for a cup of tea and something else. But never a Chicken Roll. Then one day, I took a bite, and boy was I hooked!And thus my love affair with Chicken Roll started. The husband and I had several favorite joints all over of Kolkata that we frequented just for their Chicken Rolls. I used to think we were 'berosik' to the core, but now I know, we have always been 'khadyorosik'. So the Chicken Roll seemed to be the perfect choice to celebrate 12 years of married life! But life had other plans and we ended up having Spicy Tuna Fresh Rolls, Frozen Biriyani, Vanilla Cheesecake and a beer named Bengali from Wholefoods. I made the Chicken Roll 3 days later. Boy, what a treat it was!

Pritha's Chicken Roll

Ingredients: Yield: 6 rolls

For the Chicken filling

  • Chicken - 1 lb boneless, cut into bit-size pieces
  • Onions - 1 Cup, thinly sliced into half-moons
  • Green Bell Pepper - 1 Cup, thinly sliced
  • Lemon Juice - few squeezes
  • Oil - 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp
  • Green chilies - 2 or 3 or more, finely chopped
  • Chat masala - as required

Marinade for the Chicken:

  • Grated Garlic - 2 tbsp
  • Grated Ginger - 1 tbsp
  • Greek Yogurt/Hung Curs - 2 tbsp 
  • Lemon Juice - 2 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin powder - 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder - 1 tsp
  • Paprika - 1 tsp
  • Garam masala - 1/2 tsp (Spice mix of 
  • Salt to taste

For the Parathas:

  • All Purpose Flour/Maida - 1 1/2 Cup
  • Oil - 3 tbsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Water - enough for kneading into a dough
  • Ghee or Oil - enough for frying (I used ghee)

Whisk together everything under "Marinade for Chicken", give it a quick taste for seasoning, adjust if required before add the cubed bite size chicken pieces to it. Mix well so that the marinade coats the chicken pieces nicely and leave in the fridge overnight.

Next Day: In a bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add the oil and mix using your fingers till you get a crumbly mixture. Add water little by little and knead till you get a soft dough. Pinch out 6 equal balls from the dough, using the palms of your hands shape into smooth little balls, cover and let it rest for at least half an hour.While the dough rests, heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and fry the onions till they start caramelizing. Throw in the sliced bell peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel, sprinkle some salt and set aside.

To the same pan, add 1 tbsp oil and fry the chicken pieces (marinade and all) for couple of minutes, then cover and cook on medium high heat. Once the oil starts to leave the sides, uncover and cook for 5 or 6 minutes till all the liquid dries up. Scrape and stir as required. Take off heat and keep aside.

Now, roll out the pinched out dough-balls. Heat a tawa/pan and add ghee or oil (couple of teaspoons) to it. Fry each rolled-out paratha one by one. Flip once you see the paratha puff up. I followed Pritha's tip and sprinkled few drops of oil around so that the edges crisped up but the middle remained soft. If the entire paratha crisps up, then it will not roll up pretty!
Now it is time to assemble the Chicken Rolls. Lay each paratha flat and place a straight line of chicken pieces around the 1/3rd line mark.  Top it with the fried onions and bell pepper, squeeze a little lemon juice, adorn it with little specks of green chilies and sprinkle the chat masala. Now roll the paratha and wrap it in a piece of parchment paper. Serve hot!

Once again the original recipe is here! And do visit a blog. It is such a fun read!

PS: Please don't judge my parathas - they were victims of my tennis-elbowed arm. Wait, is that even an adjective?!

I am sending this to Kolkata Food Bloggers KYB2 


Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Gajar Ka Halwa with Condensed Milk

I had a 1-pound bag of baby carrots lying in the fridge for over a week. Each time I would pull out the vegetable tray, stare at the bag and immediately my brain would shut down! I had no clue what I wanted to use them in. Usually I make chicken soup with carrots and celery, but not this time. Then someone shared a picture of carrot soup on a group on Facebook which prompted me to look up carrot soup recipes. No sooner had I clicked on a link that a tiny voice inside my head screamed, Gajar Ka Halwa. A lot encouragement from Cocoawind's Facebook Page gently nudged me to the correct direction that would use up the carrots and satisfy the soul!  
Happy soul, I danced off to the kitchen, took out the food processor and let it work it magic to shred the carrots to little itty bitty pieces. Pirouetted over to the fridge to take out the milk, only to realize that I did not have enough. So settled for condensed milk instead. I have to confess that I like the other version (made with milk and sugar) more, but this wasn't half as bad. And definitely involves less stirring than the real deal. 
I used about 3/4th of the 14 oz condensed milk can to make this which was made more to suit our taste buds, feel free to use more condensed milk. And a little more ghee wouldn't hurt either. 

Gajar Ka Halwa with Condensed Milk

Ingredients:
  • Carrots - 1 lb, shredded
  • Ghee - 1 tbsp (please use a tbsp more for a richer taste)
  • Green Cardamoms - 4 or 5, slightly crushed
  • Condensed Milk - 14 oz Can (I used 3/4th of the can to reach the desired sweetness)
  • Raisins - a handful
  • Cashews or Almonds - a handful (I used slivered almonds since I am allergic to cashews)
In a heavy bottomed pan heat the ghee on medium low, and fry the green cardamoms in it till fragrant. Add the shredded carrot and cook till tender. Keep stirring and scraping once every couple of minutes. Stir in the condensed milk and mix well. I prefer adding the condensed milk 2 tbsp at a time, so that it does not become over-sweet. Dress it up with the cashews/almonds and raisins. Alternately, you can fry the cashews and raisins in some ghee and add it. Cook  on low heat till the liquid evaporates, stirring often. 

We like it slightly warm, but you can eat it chilled too! Tastes amazing either way!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Indrani's Runny Aloo'r Torkari

A very warm person, always armed with kind words and a beautiful smile, Indrani Dhar has been a passionate blogger for over seven years now. She has been blogging religiously from her space - Recipe Junction, which is a beautiful collection of Bengali recipes, Baked Goodies, Continental Recipes. Her recipes will always have a very informative introduction, either about the history or the benefits of the main ingredient. Mommy to three adorable kids, she is a rock of a person who brings stability to our close-knit group of foodies.
I had eyed, drooled, mentally gobbled up her "Runny Potato curry-Kolkata street food joint style" many times ever since she posted it couple of months back. Wanted to make it for the husband's birthday along with Hing er Kochuri, but somehow ended up with the same lunch that I have been serving him last few years on his birthday - Luchi, Sada Alu'r Torkari, Begun Bhaja, Chicken Curry and Kalakand. So what better time to make it but now that we are celebrating each blogger of Kolkata Food Bloggers during its ongoing event - Know Your Blogger 2. This is bound to remind you of the runny aloo'r torkari that you get only in the mornings with kochuri in Kolkata. I had made some Hing er Kochuri and Gajar Ka Halwa to go with it.
I stuck to her recipe for the better part except for a couple of minor changes.

Indrani's Runny Aloo'r Torkari

Both the husband and I love to eat Kochuri-Alu'r Tortaki from the hole-in-the-wall joints of Kolkata. Many a morning we would drop off  our son at school (the few months that we were in Kolkata, last year) and head over to City Center to have Kochuri-Alu'r Torkari, Jilipi (just for me) and Bhar er Cha (Tea served in a earthen pot).  Sometimes we would go over to 'Haryana' in Kankurgachhi. The husband would follow up his Kachuri breakfast with some freshly made Lassi. I would stick to my 'Bhar er Cha'.

From outside City Center, Kolkata

Ingredients:
  • Potatoes - 2 Cups, diced (I used russet potato)
  • Cholar dal/Bengal Gram - 1/3 Cup, soaked overnight in water
  • Dry red chilies - 2
  • Panch Phoron - 1 tbsp (an equal mix of mustard seeds, fennnel seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and nigella seeds) 
  • Asofoetida/Hing - 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin Powder - 2 tsp
  • Paprika - 1 tsp (or red chili powder if you prefer more heat)
  • Mustard oil - 2 tsp
  • Sugar - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt to taste

The special mix of 5 spices that we Bengalis call 'Paanch Phoron' is used in this dish for tempering. Typically, Paanch Phoron will include Fenugreek Seeds (Methi), Nigella Seeds (Kalo Jeera), Fennel Seeds (Mouri), Cumin Seeds (Jeera) and Wild Celery Seeds (Radhuni) in equal parts. 'Radhuni' is rarely available outside West Bengal, so black mustard seeds are also used as the 5th spice. It imparts a unique flavor. 

I used my pressure cooker to cook it. If you are using a regular pan, cover and cook after adding water till potatoes are fork-tender and the dal is cooked.
Heat oil in a pressure cooker on high heat and temper with the dry red chilies and panch phoron mix. Once the seeds start crackling and sizzling, sprinkle the hing/asofoetida and lower the heat. Add the diced potatoes and mix till the masala coats each piece. Fry for a minute. Spoon in the soaked chana dal. Throw in the turmeric powder, cumin powder, paprika, salt and sugar and stir well to mix. Add enough water to cover the potatoes and pressure cook till you hear 2-3 whistles. Check the potatoes for done-ness and the curry for seasoning.

Serve piping hot with Kochuri, Luchi, Puri or Paratha. 

My family loved it! I had taken some over to our neighbor along with some Hing er Kochuri and Gajar ka Halwa, they said that it tasted like the torkari they used to eat at the famous shacks just outside Dakshinswar temple. Two thumbs up from all of us Indrani! 

I am sending this to KYB 2 

    

Friday, December 05, 2014

Rosh Bora

Rosh Bora


I got married pretty young (by modern day standards). The husband and I moved to the USA within a year of getting married. And from then on we went wherever life took us. We were rootless, footloose and fancy-free. It was a life we enjoyed to the fullest till we decided that it was time to put down our roots. So after 4 years of vagabond-ish life, we returned to Kolkata to settle down for good. But after yet another bank job (my 3rd one) and one baby later, we found ourselves back in the USA within 2.5 years of going back. And we are still here. We do not know where life will take us next. 
I miss Kolkata. I miss my family. I miss my friends. 

Recreating the dishes that I have grown up eating  is one way of holding onto the warm fuzzy feeling that only my hometown, my loved ones can engulf me in! 

I still struggle with quantities. Most of the time I am cook way more than required. Especially when I have guests over. But I am getting better, I think. My Baba has always been my go to guide when it comes to measurements (not baking, of course). If I am cooking for company, he will tell me exactly how much ingredients I need. Even though we speak different languages when it comes to measurements - he goes by grams and I prefer Cups/tbsp/tsp - his estimates are always close to accurate. He does not cook, but he is surprisingly good with ingredients as well. I based this recipe on the rough estimates that he gave me.

Rosh Bora


Ingredients For the Bora/Vada/Dumpling:
  • Kolai/Biuli Daal - 1/2 Cup
  • Fennel Seeds - 1 1/2 tsp
  • Black Cardamom Seeds - 1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Sugar - 1 tsp
  • Water - Enough to soak the daal plus some to make a thick paste.
  • Oil/Ghee - Enough for frying
Ingredients for Sugar Syrup:
  • Sugar - 1/2 Cup
  • Water - 1 Cup
  • Green Cardamom - 2 split
  • Green Cardamom Powder - 1/4 tsp
Soak the Kolai/Biuli Daal in enough water overnight. Make a paste in the grinder. Use just a little water to make a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl. Mix in the fennel seeds and black cardamom seed. Now add enough water to make thick paste. Drop dollops of the batter into the hot oil using two spoons. Reduce the flame/heat to medium low. The dumplings should be fried on medium low heat so the they cook inside out till they turn a lovely golden brown. Flip once in between. Drain excess oil on a paper towel and transfer to the bowl of sugar syrup. Let the dumplings soak in the syrup. Serve warm.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Apple Streusel Cheesecake - Version 2


Apple Streusel Cheesecake - Version 2.0

This is an updated version of a previous post. I halved the ingredients and made a few changes here and there. Initially thought of updating the previous recipe, but that seemed like too much work. Plus took some new photos! So here it is: new and updated version of the Apple Streusel Cheesecake that I had made twice in 2012, once last year and then again this time for Thanksgiving dinner that a friend hosted. 

Ingredients:
  • All Purpose Flour - 1 Cup
  • Brown Sugar - 1/4 Cup, packed
  • Sugar - 1/4 Cup + 1 tbsp
  • Butter - 1/2 Cup/1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature
  • Cream Cheese - 1 package (8 oz), room temperature
  • Eggs - 1, at room temperature
  • Vanilla Extract - 1/2 tsp
  • Apples - 2 medium, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • Ground Cinnamon - 3/4 tsp
  • Ground Nutmeg - 1/4 tsp

Ingredients: For the Streusel Topping:
  • Brown Sugar - 1/4 Cup, firmly packed
  • All Purpose Flour - 1/4 Cup 
  • Quick Cooking Oats - 6 tbsp 
  • Butter - 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
  • Cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Nutmeg powder - 1/8 tsp
Apple Streusel Cheesecake - Version 2.0

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 8x8 inches baking pan with aluminum foil and set it aside. 
In a bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar till smooth. Add the flour a little bit at a time and keep mixing till you get a crumbly mix. Spread the flour mix on pan and press down firmly. Bake for 16-18 minutes till the it turns golden brown. 
While the crust is baking, in a separate bowl whisk together the cream cheese and  and 1/4 Cup sugar till smooth. Break in the egg and pour in the vanilla essence and mix till everything is nicely incorporated. Pour it over the slightly cooled down crust evenly.
Peel, core and chop the apples and mix it with the ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and 1 tbsp sugar. Spoon in this apple mixture on the cream cheese.
In another bowl, mix all the ingredients of streusel topping and sprinkle it to cover the chopped apples.
Bake for 20-25 minutes till the filling sets. Let it cool completely and stick it in the fridge to chill for couple of hours before you cut it. Use a sharp to cut it into squares. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container. This will stay fresh for up to 4 days. 

Apple Streusel Cheesecake - Version 2.0

Monday, December 01, 2014

Whole-wheat Spinach Pesto Paratha

Okay, the last one in the Spinach Pesto series, for now. Whole-wheat Spinach Pesto Paratha it is! Once again, the 5 year old polished off dinner without stalling or complaining. The butter is just for making the picture look a little pretty. We did not slather our parathas with butter, I promise! The husband ate it with some Maggi Tomato Chili Sauce. I ate mine with some onion-cucumber salad, perked up with a dash of chaat masala and a squeeze of lemon.

Whole-wheat Spinach Pesto Paratha

Ingredients: Yield - 4 
  • Whole Wheat Flour - 1 Cup plus some extra
  • Spinach Pesto - 1/4 Cup (recipe here)
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Ghee - 1 tsp + enough for frying (you can use oil as well)
  • Water - 1/4 to 1/2 Cup, warm for making the dough
In a bowl, mix together whole-wheat flour, spinach pesto, salt, 1 tsp ghee. Add water little by little till you form a dough. Let it rest for 30 minutes. Divide the dough into 4 equal balls and roll out each ball on a floured surface till you reach about the size of a chapati (about 6-inch diameter circles). 
Heat a flat bottomed pan, and roast the rolled out circles on both the sides and keep aside. Add about a teaspoon of ghee of oil to the pan, and fry the roasted parathas. Add as much ghee or oil as required to fry. Serve hot, with your favorite side, or eat as it is. 


Linguine with Spinach Pesto and Shrimp

Linguine with Spinach Pesto and Shrimp

Yeah, okay. I make spinach pesto quite so often and bore the family with variety of dishes using it. I love the burst of flavors that brightens up any dish. The 5 year old loves shrimp. And anything noodle-y. So this dish got gobbled up with no protest and in almost no time.

Linguine with Spinach Pesto and Shrimp

  • Linguine - 250 gms (about 8 oz) (or pasta of your choice)
  • Shrimp - 14 or 15, medium sized, cleaned and deveined
  • Spinach Pesto - 1/2 Cup (find recipe here)
  • Reserved Pasta Water - 1/3 Cup
  • Butter - 1/2 tbsp
  • Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp, freshly cracked
  • Crushed Red Pepper - a fat pinch (or more)
  • Salt to taste
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
Linguine with Spinach Pesto and Shrimp

Cook the pasta according to package instruction. I always prefer cooking the pasta  at least a minute less than what is mentioned on the package, as pasta continues cooking once added to sauce. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Heat the butter in a pan, and fry the shrimps in it till they turn pink on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Add half cup of Spinach Pesto  and 1/3 Cup of the reserved pasta water immediately. Cook for a minute. Add the drained pasta to the Spinach-Pesto-Shrimp sauce and toss to coat. A quick of lemon juice and a pinch of crushed red pepper will heighten the flavor.

Serve hot. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Spicy Cranberry Chutney

I love going to Wholefoods alone. That way I can leisurely stroll through the aisles without any 'hurry up' reminders from the husband. Couple of weeks back, I was there on a Thursday morning (or may be a Friday) - they had just stocked up and I found myself staring at the vibrant beauty of the fresh produce. I must have stared for very long, as the store-guy who was sprucing up the fresh produce sensed my presence behind him and asked if I needed any help - I gushed about beautiful everything looked. The store-guy beamed. Yup they take immense pride in what they do - it shows!
Yesterday, on a last-minute shopping trip to Wholefoods I saw fresh cranberries swimming in a crate of water. I stared at it in admiration for a couple of minutes. My awed reverie was cut short by a polite 'excuse me' - I had been shamelessly hogging the aisle. I mumbled my apologies and set off to pick up the rest of the stuff on my list. Within 2 minutes I found myself back in front of the cranberries. Without thinking twice, I scooped up and bagged some. Then once again I embarked on my journey though the in search of the items on my list in the nooks and crannies of the store that never fails to amaze me!
So here I am putting the cranberries to good use. Making some spicy Cranberry Chutney for the Thanksgiving potluck tonight. It is just us and another family in the neighborhood, so this much would be plenty. They will be making the bird (chicken) and appetizers and I am in charge of the sides and dessert. 
Yup, I have been cooking up a storm in the kitchen, while the husband cleaned the house (yay) - and I am so thankful for the little things!

Spicy Cranberry Chutney

Ingredients: 

  • Fresh Cranberries - 2 Cups
  • Zest and Juice of one orange
  • Grated Ginger - 1 tsp
  • Jalapeno - 1 tbsp, finely chopped (use more or less)
  • Brown Sugar - 1 Cup
  • Water - 1/4 Cup

Add all the above ingredients to a saucepan and cook on a medium low heat for about 20 minutes, till the cranberries break down and the sauce thickens. Cool and store in a airtight jar. 

I like topping my crackers with little cheese and a little of this spicy and tart chutney.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Priyadarshini's Sorshe Murgi


Priyadarshini Chatterjee of Let's Talk Food is the star of week 3 of Kolkata Food Bloggers' event Know Your Blogger - 2.  Her blog is anything but monochromatic - splattered with jazzy photos and vibrant snippets of her life, it is a terrific read. Her recipes are experimental, flamboyant and radically different with a fair share of traditional fare thrown in. How can one not be enthralled by Doi Mishti Cupcakes or Murgir Rajokiyo Roast
I chose a something that I wanted to make for long time - Sorshe Murgi. There is something about the piquancy of bruised mustard seeds that has a hypnotic effect on my taste buds. I just cannot stop eating. I followed her recipe for the better part, depending on the availability of ingredients and just reduced the amount of heat. I had to switch out kasundi with dijon mustard. It was bursting with flavors, something I will be making many times!
And oh, did I forget to mention  that I love chicken recipes without onions.

Sorshe Murgi

Ingredients: 
  • Chicken Thighs  - 1 lb, boneless (you can use you preferred cut of chicken)
  • Tomatoes - 1/2 Cup, chopped (I used grape tomatoes)
  • Garlic - 1 tbsp, grated
  • Ginger - 1 tbsp, grated
  • Green Chili paste - 1 tsp (use more if you prefer more heat)
  • Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Vinegar - tbsp
  • Mustard Paste - 1 tbsp
  • Dijon Mustard - 1 tsp
  • Mustard Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Cilantro - 2 tbsp, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste.

Marinate the chicken with grated ginger, grated garlic, green chili paste, vinegar, turmeric powder and salt for at least an hour. 
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the mustard oil and fry the chicken pieces on high heat for few minutes. Stir and scrape as required. Throw in the chopped tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium-high, cover and cook till the oil separates. Remove the cover and cook on medium-low heat till the chicken pieces become fork-tender. Stir in the mustard paste and dijon mustard (or kasundi), sprinkle the chopped cilantro leaves and take the pan off the heat. 
Serve with rice or roti. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Eggless Cranberry Orange Cookies

Somebody could not wait to put the Christmas tree up, and so we did. Yesterday. We are still in the process of decorating it. It is a little too early, I know, but sometimes we just have give in to the little one's enthusiasm. We have already started our holiday baking, so why not start decorating as well. That gives us something do when the nasty weather keeps us cooped up inside.
We kicked off our Holiday Baking with some Cookie Cups last week and this week we made some Cranberry-Orange Cookies. 

Eggless Cranberry Orange Cookies

Ingredients: (Yield about 18 small ones)
  • Flour - 1 Cup + 1 tbsp
  • Butter - 1 stick or 1/2 Cup, unsalted, at room temperature
  • Granulated Sugar -  7 tbsp
  • Dried Cranberry - 1/2 Cup
  • Orange Zest - 1/2 tsp
  • Vanilla - 1/2 tsp
  • A pinch of salt
  • Cornstarch - 1/2 tbsp
  • Water - 1 tbsp
In a bowl, using a electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. In a small bowl, make a paste of the cornstarch and water - I used this mixture as an egg substitute. Add the cornstarch mixture, orange zest, vanilla extract and salt to creamed butter and sugar and mix well. Add the flour little by little and mix well to form a crumbly mix. Gently fold in the cranberries. Use your hands to bring everything together and form 2 logs of dough. Refrigerate the logs of dough for at least 2 hours. I had prepared the dough the night before and kept it in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut discs from the chilled logs of dough. Place the discs on the lined cookie sheet about an inch apart and bake for 12-15 minutes till the cookies start turning golden brown on the edges. Take the cookie sheet out of the oven and let the cookies cool before you move them. 

These will stay fresh for 3-4 days in an airtight container. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Savory French Toast inspired by Jayati

Mom to a very handsome 14 year old, Jayati Saha, the star of this week's Kolkata Food Bloggers event - Know Your Blogger (Part 2) juggles her life at home and in the corporate world beautifully. Calm and collected, she exudes a warmth which makes one want to be friends with her right away. Yup, we are a lucky bunch at Team KFB - we got to know such wonderful people and by recreating their recipes, the bond only grows more intimate.
Jayati blogs from Jayati's Food Journey - and her culinary journey laces in and out of everyday life, weaving a beautiful story of dishes, both Indian and international. I love how she adds her own little flair to her recipes. Oh, she has many every-day Bengali recipes on her blog as well.
Nowadays the husband has taken over the breakfast-making during the week while I feed the 5 year old his breakfast before he leaves for school. So I make breakfast over the weekend. Saturdays are rushed as the 5 year old has soccer, so I try to sneak in a little something special on Sundays, well on most Sundays.  Which means, I am always on the lookout for interesting yet easy breakfast options. Sometimes it is a recipe that catches my fancy and sometimes it is an idea. Jayati's classic French Toast with Peanut Butter gave me the idea to make a savory version (the quintessential Bengali French Toast AKA Dim-Paurooti) and kick it up a notch by adding a Spinach Pesto and Cheese filling.

footloose and fancy-free
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Ingredients: For the Savory French Toasts (Yield about 6 triangles)
  • Bread - 6 (preferably sandwich bread)
  • Eggs - 5
  • Onions - 2 tbsp, very finely chopped
  • Milk - 2 tsp
  • Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp, freshly cracked
  • Salt to taste
  • Spinach Pesto - 3 tbsp (Recipe here)
  • Cheese Slices - 3
  • Oil - enough for frying, I needed about 1 tbsp
In a swallow bowl whisk together the eggs and milk for a couple of minutes. Throw in the chopped onions, sprinkle the salt and pepper and give it another whisk. 
Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Now dunk the bread (you can cut of the crust if you want to) into the egg-mixture , flip and let it coat both the sides. Gently slide the bread slices into the pan and fry till golden brown on both sides. Drain the excess oil on paper towels. Slather one slice with Spinach Pesto, add a slice of cheese, cover it with another slice (slathered with Spinach Pesto). Cut it diagonally in  the middle (or not) and serve warm with some tomato sauce or some more spinach pesto on the side to dunk it in. 

Spinach Pesto

This is a lovely thing to have on hand to add to your sandwich or pasta. I add it to ground chicken and chickpea as well. Very easy to make and stays fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days. Since I am allergic to most nut, except almonds and pistachio, I skip the pine nuts in my spinach pesto and add almonds. 

Spinach Pesto


Ingredients (Yield: About 2 Cups)

  • Spinach - 2 Cups, blanched and water squeezed out.
  • Cilantro - 1/2 Cup, packed (you can use parsley as well)
  • Almonds - 14 or 16
  • Garlic - 2 fat cloves
  • Olive Oil - 1 tbsp 
  • Pepper - 1/4 tsp
  • Salt - a little
  • A squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
In a mixer or food processor, pulse the almonds a few times. It will resemble a coarse powder. Add the garlic cloves, and give it another quick pulse or two. Then add the spinach, cilantro, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon (optional) and pulse till you get a smooth paste. Sprinkle the salt and pepper and give it one last pulse. Done in this sequence, I always get a smoother paste. May be it is my mixer but done in any other sequence I have ended up with chunks of almonds or garlic in my pesto. Not that I mind, but the husband and 5 year old will definitely make a face! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups filled with Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups filled with Chocolate Ganache

Absolutely delectably delightful. A crowd-pleaser. Perfect for a potluck! Do I need to say more?  No really I will stop here today. It is too cold - at one point it was in the negative (Fahrenheit) with wind chill and I am at my grumpiest best. So off to the recipe! 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups filled with Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Ganache Recipe: click here!

Ingredients: For the cookie cups (yield about 18)
  • Flour - 2 1/4 
  • Butter - 3/4 Cup, unsalted at room temperature
  • Brown Sugar - 2/3 Cup, tightly packed (use light or dark)
  • Granulated Sugar - 2/3 Cup
  • Baking Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Baking Soda - 1/4 tsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Eggs - 2, large at room temperature
  • Vanilla - 1 tbsp
  • Vinegar - 1 tbsp 
  • Chocolate Chips - 1 1/4 Cups, semi-sweet
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups filled with Chocolate Ganache

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a muffin tin liberally with oil and set it aside. 

In a bowl, cream together the sugars and butter using a electric mixer until light and fluffy for a minute or so. Add the vinegar, eggs and vanilla to the creamed butter and sugars and mix well. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips into dough. 

Now scoop out the batter using a spoon or an ice cream scoop and fill the muffin tin cups till each is about 2/3 full. Press the cookie dough gently in the shape of the cup. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes till the edges start turning golden brown. The cookies will have puffed up. Take the muffin tin out of the oven and while it is still warm make cavities in each cookie cup by pressing down using the back of a mini ice-cream scoop or a rounded spoon. My mini sized pestle worked just fine. Let the cookie cups cool completely before taking out of pan. Before taking the cookie cups out I used a paring knife to loosen the sides before I eased them out gently. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups filled with Chocolate Ganache


Once the cookie cups have cooled down completely, add dollops of ganache to the cups. For Chocolate Ganache Recipe: click here

Sprinkle with a little sea salt if you like! I love how a tiny pinch of sea salt balances out the sweetness. The husband and 5 year old do not like theirs with sea salt. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups filled with Chocolate Ganache

Recipe adapted from here!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lobongo Lotika

I had taken these Lobongo Lotikas along with the Instant Jalebis to the Diwali Potluck lunch last month. I initially had decided against posting this recipe as the Lobongo Lotikas did not turn out as pretty as I wanted them to! But then everyone said that these tasted pretty darn good (and asked for the recipe) and in retrospect I realized that these don't look half bad, so I changed my mind! I do regret the fact that I did not take a better picture. But these tasted pretty divine!

It is always a pleasure to recreate sweets that I have grown up loving. Though Bengal is known for rosogollas and sandesh, I tend to like the fried variety more and of course any Mishti made with Nolen Gur (Date Palm Jaggery). Lobongo Lotika is one such Mishti that I love! There is something about these sugar syrup coated sweet parcels filled with yummy goodness that just hits the spot. All the Lobongo Lotikas I had eaten back home had a filling of Khoya, mostly. But unfortunately I miscalculated the amount of Khoya I would need and ended up with less than the required amount.

I had toiled quite a bit behind making the Khoya the previous day which also took a substantial amount of patience and my time. I did not have the time to make Khoya all over again, so made a filling using both Khoya and coconut.

Lobongo Lotika

(Yield about 24)

Ingredients: For the sugar syrup:
  • Sugar - 3/4 Cup
  • Water -1/3 Cup
  • Cardamom Powder - 1/4 tsp (I added twp split cardamoms as well)
  • Lemon Juice - 1/2 tbsp (it will prevent the syrup from crystallizing)
Ingredients: For the dough: 
  • Flour - 2 cup
  • Sugar - 1/4 Cup
  • Baking Powder - 1 tsp
  • Salt - 1/4 tsp
  • Ghee - 3 tbsp
  • Warm water - enough for kneading the dough (About 3/4 to 1 1/4 Cups)
  • Few drops of oil 
Ingredients: For the filling: 
  • Desiccated Coconut - 2 Cups
  • Khoya/Mawa - 1 Cups (for recipe of Khoya, click here!)
  • Crashed Green Cardamom - 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar - 1/2 Cup plus tbsp (more or less, depending on your preference) 
  • Nutmeg powder - one pinch
  • Milk - 1 to 2 tbsp
Extra Ingredients:
  • Oil - enough for deep frying
  • Cloves - as required 
For the sugar syrup: In a saucepan, heat the water, sugar and cardamom (plus two split cardamoms) on medium heat till the sugar dissolves and it comes to a boil. Add the lemon juice. Lower the heat and let it simmer till the syrup reduces and thickens to a one-string consistency. Keep it aside. 

For the dough: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and ghee. Add the warm water a little bit at a time and mix till everything comes together nicely. Knead well. Take few drops of oil and coat the kneaded dough nicely. Cover and keep aside.

For the filling: Heat a heavy bottomed pan and toast the coconut lightly. Add the sugar and cook till it starts caramelizing. Now add the Khoya and the powdered cardamom. Keep the heat on medium and do not forget to stir frequently or it will burn. Cook till nicely incorporated. Add the milk and cook till the mixture comes together. Once again the key is to stir frequently. Keep aside. 

Lobongo Lotika

For making the Lobongo Lotika: Pinch out small smalls from dough. Dunk the balls into a little oil and roll them out in 3 inch diameters. Rubbing few drops of oil on the rolling surface always helps in rolling out the dough. Scoop out little filling onto the rolled out dough. Wrap it up like a parcel (see pic) and use a clove to secure it. 
Heat oil in pan, fry few at a time till they turn golden brown. The temperature of the oil should be perfect. Foolproof test - drop a tiny bit of dough into the oil and if it sizzles and bubbles and rises up to the surface immediately, your oil is ready. Also, slide the little parcels in gently or the oil might jump back at you and leave a nasty burn. Flip once halfway. Drain on a paper towel and transfer to the bowl with sugar syrup in it. Let it soak in the syrupy goodness for few minutes. 

Serve warm. Even though I love it at any temperature, most enjoy it when warm. These stayed fresh in an airtight container for 2 days. We did not have any leftovers after that.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Easy Peasy Cake Balls

It was my husband's birthday last month, so of course I had to bake a cake for him. I was trying out a new recipe - Chocolate Truffle Cake, and in my eagerness to finish things fast, I tried to take the cake out of the pan a little too soon. Woe struck! My cake broke into pieces. My heart raced. My thoughts jumbled up. This has never happened to me before! Not even when I had just started baking. What did I do wrong. What did I miss. How can I fix it.  And guess what made it worse - the taste! It tasted so good and yet it lay in front of me broken into pieces - beyond repair. It was ten in the night and I had run out of ingredients as well. Thank goodness I always have some box mixes stowed away in the pantry as fall-back options. So I could manage to bake a cake for him! 
So what did I do with broken cake  - I made Easy Peasy dessert for a potluck - Cake Balls! Kid friendly and adults love them too! All you need is a cake of your choice and some frosting/ganache.
For chocolate ganache recipe, click here!

Easy Peasy Cake Balls

Ingredients:

  • Cake of your choice - 1
  • Chocolate ganache/Your Choice of Frosting - about 3/4 to 1 Cup
  • Cocoa Powder - 1 tbsp for dusting 
Line a cookie sheet with a parchment paper and keep aside. Break up the cake into small pieces using your hand and pulse it in the mixer till it is of crumbly consistency. Transfer to a large bowl. Now add about 1/4 Cup of the chocolate ganache to it. Using your hand start mixing it together. Keep adding more chocolate ganache to it till you get the consistency when the mix comes together niceluy and can be rolled into balls. Pinch out 2 tablespoon worth cake-ganache mix and using the palms of your hands roll it into smooth balls. Arrange on the cookie sheet. Now take the tablespoon-full cocoa powder in a strainer and dust gently on top of the cake balls. Now transfer them onto mini cupcake liner and these are ready to be served to your guests. 

Palak Paneer: My Ma's recipe

This is my theory behind everyone saying that their Mom's food being the best! It is because we find comfort in all things familiar. That is what we have grown up stuffing our tummies with, sneaking in when no one's looking, stashing the of aromas and flavors away in tiny compartments in our hearts! Heck, I had served my 5 year old (when he was around 3) steamed broccoli and the little faithful soul said it was yummy! Trust me, I know friends who praise their Mom's cooked food endlessly, though I have found it hard to gulp down (no offence). Luckily for me, I have friends who praise my Mom's food endlessly too! 

Btw, please forgive the crappy picture. It was way creamier than this. I took a photo right after taking it out of the fridge and and hurriedly took a pic before I heated it up. Everyone was hungry and gave me exactly 2 minutes to click a pic.




This is one of her many recipes that I love! Bursting with flavors of nutty coriander seeds and fresh cilantro, this is a recipe that is very close to my heart. And a dear friend's valuable tip on how to keep the paneer soft and soak in the flavors just makes it all the more special.   

Ingredients:
  • Spinach - 2 1/2 Cups, packed (I used frozen)
  • Cilantro - 1/2 Cup
  • Garlic - 4 fat cloves + 1 tbsp minced
  • Tomato - 1 small
  • Green Chili - 2 or 3 (depending on heat preference)
  • Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
  • Oil - 1/2 tbsp + enough to fry the paneer lightly
  • Paneer - about 3 Cups
  • Salt to taste + 1 tsp
  • Sugar - 1 tbsp
  • Water - 2 Cups + 2 Cups
In a mixer, blend together the spinach, cilantro, 4 fat cloves of garlic, green chilies and tomato into a smooth paste. Since I used frozen spinach (that I thawed on the counter-top) I squeezed out as much water as possible. 
Heat 2 Cups of water along with a tablespoon of water and a teaspoon of salt (preferably in a shallow dish/bowl). Cut the paneer in your desired shape. Heat a pan and fry the paneer pieces lightly on all the sides. Immediately transfer the fried pieces to the warm water. Let the pieces soak in it. 
Now add oil to the pan and fry the minced garlic and coriander powder till fragrant on medium  heat. Add the spinach mixture and cook till it turns darker green. Add salt and water, cover and cook. Once it starts simmering, add the paneer pieces and cook till the spinach-gravy reduces to your desired consistency. 
Serve warm with Roti or Rice. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pasta with Shrimp: Quick and Easy

This one is very much like the Shrimp Scampi that I make oh-so-often, but a less fancy version! It takes about 15-20 minutes to make and I have some happy campers at meal-time! Every time I make it, the 5 year old who otherwise insists to be fed, will quip, "Can I eat it by myself?" He will use both of his hands to eat, hold the shrimps by the tails and polish them off and then eat the pasta. He needs a lesson or few in table manners of course.. but they are kids just once!

Pasta with Shrimp: Quick and Easy

Ingredients: ( 3 servings)
  • Pasta - 1/2 pound, I used Penne (about 2 1/2 Cups)
  • Reserved pasta water - 1/3 Cup
  • Belize Shrimp or medium sized shrimps - 14-15, cleaned and deveined 
  • Garlic - 1 tbsp, minced 
  • Cilantro - 2 tbsp, finely chopped tightly packed
  • Lemon juice - a quick squeeze or two
  • Chili Flakes - 1/2 tsp (or more)
  • Oil - 1/2 tbsp
  • Pepper - 1/4, freshly cracked
  • Salt to taste + a generous amount for the pasta water
Pasta with Shrimp: Quick and Easy

Cook the pasta as per package instruction. Do not forget to season the pasta water with salt. Drain (reserve 1/3 Cup pasta water) and keep aside. While the pasta cooks, heat oil in a pan and fry the garlic in it till fragrant. Add the shrimps and cook till they turn pink on both the sides. It is very easy to overcook shrimp, so do not keep the pan unattended or cook the shrimps for too long. Once the shrimps turn pink, season with salt and pepper. Add the reserved pasta water and and the cilantro immediately. Let it stay on heat for half a minute more and then pour it over the cooked pasta. Sprinkle the chili flakes and give it a good toss. I usually serve my son first and then add the chili flakes. 





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