Hello Dear friends,
Wish you all a Very Happy Dussehra!Dussehra being the festival of Good destroying the Evil,I am glad to say that it has certainly had a positive effect on my health.I am now feeling much better.
Well friends,I would like to invite you all to partake of the Naivedyam(offering to the Mother Goddess)which I prepared today.It consists of Garelu(Deep fried lentil patties),Pongali(sweet pudding made of rice and yellow mung lentils with milk,ghee and jaggery) and Daddojanam(Curd rice,seasoned with mustard,ginger,asafoetida,salt,red chillies, and fresh chopped coriander.
October 21, 2007
Posted By Vini K On Sunday, October 21, 2007
October 09, 2007
Thank you for your concerns about me.I had a really busy but good vacation this time.I stayed in India for 6 weeks and came back to London on Sept 17th.My little lady started her nursery school from Sept 20th.I have not been feeling very well since I came back.Low haemoglobin levels have forced me to take things a bit slower from now on.I will start blogging again from next week onwards.Meanwhile I am just taking the time to rest and catch up with my daughter's new school routine.
I am going to start clicking pictures and writing drafts from this week so maybe next week I will have something up for you to read and enjoy.
Posted By Vini K On Tuesday, October 09, 2007
July 26, 2007
Scones are a favourite breakfast treat in England and Scotland.The First scone recipe I made was a savoury one.Then recently I found another recipe for scones which are made on a griddle or tava.I was so happy that I did not have to preheat my oven.Most important,these can be whipped up in a very short time.
2 tsp cream of tartar
25 gms margarine/butter
25 gms white granulated or caster sugar
150 ml milk
Method:Heat a griddle/tava on medium heat, and smear some butter/fat over it to keep the scones from sticking to the griddle.
Now,mix the flour,baking soda,and sugar well.Add the margarine/butter and rub with your fingers till it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the milk and mix with a fork to a soft consistency where it holds together.
Flour your counter or a chapathi rolling board.With floured hands,divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.Take each piece and knead lightly on the board and flatten it to about 1 cm thick,about 3-3.5 inches in diameter.Place on hot griddle.Cook on medium heat until each side is golden and the scone is puffed up.Don't cook on high heat or the scones will collapse upon removing from heat, and the insides may still be raw.Best eaten fresh but can be stored and reheated for the next day as a snack or even breakfast.
My Notes:These tasted exceptionally good warm,freshly made, with some butter.I used soya milk in place of milk since I am lactose intolerant.They still turned out good.If you donot have cream of tartar,don't panic.
Instead of the plain flour and cream of tartar,you can also use self raising flour with 2 tsp baking powder.I have made these using both ways and they turned out good either way.
And now,what holiday,you ask?Well,the last three months have been more than agonising for me since we were not able to plan our yearly vacation to India.Well finally the gods decided to smile upon us, and we travel this saturday to India!So,it is a short goodbye from me to all of you, and see you again in September.I donot know if I will have much access to internet at all once I leave Hyderabad,so I can't promise that I will be around much.I will try though, and hopefully,come back rejuvenated with lots more recipes to share with you all.I will also be able to try out many of my favourite recipes from you all after I come back as I am planning to get some much needed kitchen stuff this time.Wish me luck,friends.See you soon then.These scones are all that I have had as breakfast all of this week since I started packing and cleaning before leaving for India.That is how fast you can make these-it takes literally 20 mins from start to finish!
July 20, 2007
As I write this post,I am biting into a yummy nankhatai that I made yesterday.Years ago,when we were young kids(5-6 yrs old),my mother used to have a round oven with a glass top manufactured by Paramount and which came with a recipe book.The first thing that she made was Nankhatai.And I can never forget its melt in the mouth texture and taste.The taste of that nankhatai still lingers in my mind and recently it started enticing me even in my dreams!so much so I had to make the nankhatai instead of just dreaming about Mummy's nankhatai.But I did not have that particular recipe which used butter instead of ghee.So I had to search for an authentic recipe.Vaishali's recipe came to my rescue.I made a few modifications though,so here is the recipe:
Ingredients:1 cup all purpose flour
1 & 1/4cup wholewheat flour(chapathi atta in plain terms)
12 tbsp ghee
1 cup sugar
Seeds from 12 pods of green cardamoms
Method:Grind the sugar along with the cardamom seeds in a food processor until very fine.
Mix the two flours,ground sugar and cardamoms and the baking powder.Mix well with a fork or a whisk so that the baking powder is distributed evenly.
Now add 5-6 tbsp of solidified ghee to the flour mix, and mix with your hand to form a mixture with the texture of fine breadcrumbs.
From this point on,add ghee by the tablespoon,judging how much would be needed to make a pliable soft dough that holds together.The dough should hold its shape and not look dry.
At this point,what I did is to shape small balls out of this,about 1 inch in diameter and arranged them on lined baking sheets,spaced atleast 2 inches apart.I also flattened them a little.Then while the oven was getting heated,I put them in the fridge for about 15 mins.I baked them directly from the fridge.By this time,they were cool enough to hold their shape well in the heat of the oven and yet puff up like buttons.
I baked them at 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4 for 20 mins until they were lightly browned at the edges.
My Notes:These tasted so yummy ,that by now I have gobbled up atleast 15 of these little beauties in a matter of two days!
Now for the Meme that Sunita tagged me for:
- Mathematics as for so many if us, is not my best subjects.I was never good at it and infact,was quite ashamed of the fact as long as I was in school.Only when I was in class Tenth,I was lucky enough to get a very good teacher who gave me the confidence to try my hand at maths.But I never ventured into that after my High school finals.I chose to do what I was good at-Literature.
- I was afraid of the dark until I was almost 17 yrs old.As a child I had a bad attack of measles and psychologically as well a physically took very very long to recover from it.I used to feel that there is a huge lion which is going to pounce upon me from behind whenever I went into the dark.A lot of self discipline finally helped me overcome it,but it wasn't until recently that I read that severe illness can cause these fears and phobias too.
- I used aspire to be a writer some day.I remember there used to be broadcast a teleserial by famous Marathi actor and director Amol Palekar which had 3 sisters as the main characters.I used to identify myself a lot with the second of the three as I am also the second of three girls, and like that girl in the serial,loved reading.I used to dream that I would have a big library of books which I would read all my life.
- I was not mentally prepared to marry until I was 25.I had always wanted to study and get a good job.I also wanted to stay back and look after my parents.But right then,my dear hubby stepped into my life and boy,has my life changed since December 2000!
- I never had much confidence to do all those co-curricular activities when in school.My sisters were both quite good but for some reason,I preferred to hide my face behind books.
- I used to hate regular study as a school girl(I know,not a good example at all for my little one, and wouldn't want to tell her until she finishes her education hee hee).So I would borrow lots of story books from our school library and hide them in my history and geography as well as science books.And read them slyly.
- I am very independent by nature and do not like anybody telling me how to do things .I prefer to learn to do things on my own.I think that is the best way to learn.I learnt reading like that, and cooking too.I started baking on my own when I was in class ninth, about 13 yrs old.My parents also somehow treat me a little different from my sisters.The one thing I am proud of is that everyone in my family thinks that I am much stronger(mentally and emotionally) than anyone else.I have always been bugged by the fact that I was never good at maths and never got a good teacher to teach me the right way.But then,we all have our regrets and God gives us other powers to compensate for what we do not have.I believe I have proved myself amply by determining to learn things that I always wanted to do-cooking gourmet dishes, and most important,cake decoration.I cannot remember for how long I have had the desire to do an exquisitely iced cake.I have not reached that point yet but I am sure I will do it.And all this without any formal classes.I finally feel proud that even though I could not do better at maths,God has given me the ability to learn things on my own.
July 13, 2007
As promised,here is the recipe for the checkerboard cake:
Ingredients:3 oz/85 gms baking chocolate
4 cups/508 gms cake flour
2 cups/400 gms sugar
1 tsp salt
1 &1/3 cup/316 ml milk
1 cup/225 gms butter
1 tbsp Vanilla extract
2 tbsp baking powder
Method:Melt chocolate over hot water and keep aside to cool.
Combine together flour,sugar,baking powder,and salt.Stir with a fork or a whisk until well mixed.
Add the butter and 1 cup milk.Beat until well mixed.You can do this either by hand or a hand mixer.
In a separate bowl,whisk together the eggs,vanilla and the remaining 1/3 cup of milk.Add to the flour-butter mix in 3 parts.Beat well after each addition until the mixture looks homogenous.Remember to scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Divide the batter into half and add the melted chocolate to one half,Mix thoroughly.
Grease and flour three 9 inch round pans.Line the bases if you like.
Now,Place the divider in one pan, and pour the chocolate mixture in the outermost and innermost rings.Pour some white mixture into the middle ring.Remove the divider carefully and place it in another pan.Repeat the above step.
Take out the divider carefully and wash it.Dry it well and place it in the third pan.In this one,pour the white batter in the outermost and inner most rings and the chocolate mixture in the middle one.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 mins.Let cool in pans for five minutes and then take out onto wire rack to cool the cakes completely.
Assembling the cake:
Use a thin layer of chocolate buttercream to join the layers together,with the white-chocolate-white cake in the middle and the chocolate-white-chocolate cakes forming the upper and lower layers.
Ice with the buttercream and decorate as wished.
The Chocolate butter icing :
85 gms Baking chocolate
6 tbsp/90 ml Milk
3 cups/380 gms sifted icing/confectioners sugar
6 tbsp/90 gms Butter
1 tbsp Vanilla extract
Method:Melt the chocolate on low heat.
Heat milk to boiling and immediately remove from heat.Add confectioners sugar and beat thoroughly.
Add melted chocolate and mix well .Cool to lukewarm.
Beat butter in another bowl until creamy.Add a pinch of salt,vanilla and the cooled chocolate mixture.Beat vigorously until smooth and creamy.Spread immediately.
I use The Perfect Buttercream recipe from Baking911 and it is literally,perfect except that I use only a small quantity of shortening and a major portion of butter.Sometimes I use all butter.
My Notes:I always use margarine for my cakes, and this one is no exception.you can use it too,if you are concerned about your intake of too much saturated fat.
July 03, 2007
Life has become so busy all of a sudden,instead of finding myself time to blog and read more blogs about food,read books and spend my time in a leisurely manner,I am now running out to finish my chores both at home and outside before the kid comes home from the nursery.Coupled with all that,the weather here has been very rainy here and pretty dampening.And so the days passed by until a little bird reminded me that it is hubby's birthday soon.And with that began one more errand of frantic shopping amid plans of what to make!
Finally I decided to make a cake and a very simple dinner.Then comes the kid into the kitchen and says,"Mom,its my birthday today.Can you make me a cake (pronounced "kaik",dutifully in UK accent,learnt at the nursery)please?"So I decided,OK,just a small cake.
Here are the pictures of the cake I made.This first one, a heart shaped one is for Little A,who wanted to cut a cake along with her dad.Her friend Neel helped her cut the cake.
This is a plain chocolate cake,made in two layers and sandwiched with chocolate buttercream.The stars have been piped using whipped heavy cream.They held up their shape beautifully.
This one is the cake I made for dear V.I really am blessed to have him by my side in this life.Apart from being so good to me in general and never complaining,
not once has he grudged when I wanted to buy the numerous cake pans--fancy,plain
et all, the icing sets,the weighing scales and the measuring cups and spoons (which ,however many I have,I am not satisfied)!Now that surely makes me a foodie if not anything else.OK,so back to the main person in this post(
V somehow always admires all the fancy things I do,like decorating cakes, and baking marble cakes and the like.Which is why he was very happy when I made him this:
This cake was made in a checkerboard cake pan set in 3 layers and frosted with chocolate buttercream.My first attempt at dipping the strawberries in white chocolate was not that bad afterall.
The recipe is a very simple one, and can be found online too.I used the recipe that came along with my checkerboard cake pan set.For the heart shaped cake,I used only half the recipe with the chocolate and baked it in two 7 inch heart shaped pans.
June 25, 2007
As usual,my heart started craving to bake something new this time.So I searched my recipe collection for something .This is an orange flavoured tartlet which tastes excellent fresh.I found that it stays fresh for atleat 3 days in an air tight tin.
Ingredients for Almond Pastry: 100 gms Plain Flour
2 tbsp ground almonds
50 gms Butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp Almond essence
1/2 tsp salt
Flour for rolling out the pastry
Ingredients for the Filling: Grated rind of 1 orange(1 tbsp of orange rind)
50 gms ground almonds
75 gms caster sugar
1 egg white
Ingredients for the icing: 50 gms Icing sugar
1 tbps orange juice
Method for making the shortcrust pastry:While making pastry,the butter has to be chilled always.Cut the butter into the flour with a fork.For this pastry,Mix the flour with the ground almonds,and salt.Cut the butter into the flour using a fork or a pastry cutter if you have one.I used two forks.The consistency should be like that of fine breadcrumbs.Meanwhile,preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
Add the egg yolk and a few tablespoons of water.Add water by the tablespoon so as not to make the dough too soft.You should have a tight dough.Roll out and line twelve mini tart tins.
The Filling: Mix the orange rind,ground almonds and caster sugar.Whisk the egg white in a clean dry bowl till stiff peaks form.Fold gently into the orange rind-almond mixture.Fill the lined pastry moulds 2/3 full .Bake for 20-30 mins.The tops will have risen and browned a little.
Mix the icing sugar with the orange juice and when the tartlets are completely cool,pipe a swirl over them.
My Notes:I had posted this in my initial days of blogging.I am now sending this to Sharmi for the AFAM Orange Event for this month.The sweet girl that she is,she told me that it is ok if I sent in an older post.
June 16, 2007
I love chinese food-it is so fast to whip up and good to eat.So when I came across this recipe,I could not help noting it down so as not to forget it.When I made this,I was surprised by the taste.Of course,I did adapt it to my requirements.So without much ado,here is the recipe:
Ingredients:1 red pepper/1/2 cup of sliced red pepper
2 medium sized carrots(about 1 cup)
1 bunch spring onions
175 gms broccoli or cauliflower
100 gm baby corn
100 gms mangetout(known as snow peas in US)
2 cloves garlic
1 inch piece ginger
3-4 fresh green or red chillies
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
juice of 1 lime
450 gms medium chinese noodles(straight-to-wok variety)
An equal weight of cooked maggi/any other dry noodles
Method:Slice the carrots and peppers into thin strips.Remove seeds from pepper.
Slice the baby corn into half lengthwise.chop spring onion into diagonal slices.cut the mangetout similarly.
Using a fine grater,grate the ginger and garlic(If you have a mortar and pestle,crush it Indian style).Now chop the red chilli finely.
Heat oil in a wide mouthed frying pan/wok.Add the garlic,ginger and chilli and fry for a few secs on high heat.Now add the carrots and pepper.Stir fry for 2 mins.
Add spring onions,broccoli/cauliflower,corn and mangetout.Stir fry for 2-3 mins until veggies start to wilt.
Meanwhile, if you are using maggi or other dry noodles,cook your noodles in plain water.Drain and keep aside.Don't cook them too soft.If you use the ready to use noodles,you need not cook them.
Now mix together the soya sauce,lime juice and honey and mix into the veggies.Add the noodles and stir until heated through and mixed properly.
My Notes:The original recipe uses 450 gms of straight-to-wok traditional medium noodles.I made them using both normal maggi noodles as well as straight to wok noodles.Both versions were very good.You can always increase the spice if you like it that way.
This is very light upon the tongue-all the flavours gel together very well.The abundance of the vegetables in this dish also makes it quite healthy as well as satisfying.
June 05, 2007
I have been trying to eliminate the use of eggs in my baking,of late. I think my tastes are changing these days.I came across a recipe for cookies made with semolina which sounded very different to me.It does not even have baking powder or baking soda.How different?well,read on:I made changes to the recipe to suit my taste and working methods.
Ingredients:125 gms margarine/butter(I used Flora original spread)
150 gms all purpose or plain flour/maida
75 gms Semolina/sooji(the one used for upmas etc)
75 gms soft brown sugar/raw cane sugar/light brown sugar
25 gms ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla essence
8-9 pods of elaichi/green cardamom,powdered
Method:Preheat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas mark 5
Beat the margarine with the sugar until light and fluffy.Add the vanilla essence and
Mix the flour,semolina and ground almonds.
Add this into the margarine-brown sugar mix in two batches,mixing well to form a dough.
Knead lightly to a tight dough.Make sure that the dough does not stick to your hands.
Oil a baking sheet lightly or use a greaseproof paper to line it.
Make 3/4 inch diameter balls of the dough and flatten a little with your palms.Place it on the baking sheet.
Do this for all the cookies.Then use the tines of a fork to press the cookies vertically as well as horizontally,making a check pattern on top.Bake for 20-25 mins.In my oven it took 25 mins.
Take out the cookies when you see the sides browning lightly.They will still be soft but don't be disheartened.These cookies dry up fairly well as they cool and take on a nice crunch once they are completely cooled.
My Notes:These cookies turned out great,not too sweet either.Great accompaniment to tea or coffee.For all my readers wondering what to do if you cnnot find brown sugar,simply substitute with white sugar.Normally in India the sugar is of larger granules,and if that is the case with you,all you need to do is to run it through your food processor to make a powder of the sugar.
May 24, 2007
My mother never was, or is, a gourmet cook.Her philosophy of cooking is to keep it simple always.Her methods have had a lot of influence over how I cook our daily meals.But among everything else she cooked,the one thing that stands out in my memory is her Ariti Davva Koora(except for her sambar and chaaru of course).Ariti Davva is literally,the tender stem of Banana trees.It is ivory coloured,but like banana,blackens in no time when exposed to air.We had a very nice lady as our domestic help when we were younger.Janakamma or Janko as we fondly called her,would very patiently chop the banana stem,removing fibres and chopping it into very small pieces and putting them in diluted buttermilk to stop it from turning black.My mother would then cook curries using them.
The particular texture of ariti davva is what attracts me.It is very porous and absorbs flavours really nicely.The stem itself,as you will have guessed now,is full of fibre.That is why,even after it is cooked,it retains its crunchiness which is just wonderful.
Cutting the stem is a time taking task.First,the outer blackened layer is removed.Since it has lots of fibre,it is then usually cut into thin slices and the fine fibres which stand out,are taken off.Then the slices are chopped into really small pieces and put into diluted buttermilk to prevent it from becoming dark on exposure to air.But once this has been done,it cooks very quickly.I chopped it in the morning and kept it ready for the night to make the curry.
Aava is telugu for Mustard.Mustard and rice are soaked in water for some time so as to soften the mustard grains and then ground into a fine paste.This paste is usually added to curries at the end.It gives a really nice flavour.
On a recent trip to the Indian grocery store,I was lucky enough to find a piece of banana stem.I immediately grabbed it,having longed to eat it for as long as 6 years.So without much ado,here is the Ariti Davva curry that I learnt from my mother:
Ingredients:2 cups finely chopped Banana stem
1 tsp split urad dal
1 tsp mustard
2 dry red chillies,broken into 2-3 bits
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
6-8 curry leaves
For the Mustard paste:2 tsp mustard seeds
1 1/2 tbsp raw rice
3-4 dry red chillies
1 lime sized ball of tamarind,soaked and juice extracted
1 tbsp tamarind paste
Method:Soak the mustard and rice along with dry red chillies in some water for atleast 2 hours.This will soften the mustard seeds.
Now add the drained banana stem pieces.Mix well and let cook for 2 minutes.Now add turmeric and salt, and add 1/2 cup water to it.Close the pan and let it cook on low till the banana stem feels softer.You can test by putting a small piece in your mouth-it should feel crunchy but cooked.
Drain the water from the mustard and grind it along with rice and chillies to a fine paste.
Add the tamarind juice or paste(if using paste,dilute with a little water) to the cooked banana stem.Make sure that there is some water left in the pan.If not,add some more water before adding the tamarind paste.This is a gravy curry,so you do need some water.
Now once the curry is heated through,and comes to a boil,add the finely ground mustard-chilli paste.Mix well and take off the heat.
Once mustard is added,donot let the curry cook on heat as the mustard will turn the curry bitter.
Serve with hot steaming rice and a dollop of ghee.
My Notes:This curry goes very well with rice, and chapathis as well.We had it with chapathis yeaterday and it was a great combination.
Thanks to Lakshmi K of Veggie cuisine who started the RCI,I have had this wonderful chance to delve into the beautiful memories of my past and recreate one of my timeless favourites.
I would like to submit this for this month's RCI Andhra Cuisine hosted by Latha of Masala Magic.
May 16, 2007
I have been very busy lately,but not so busy not to notice the advent of summer.Mango is the fruit of Indian summers.I remember the countless days we spent as vacations with my Ammamma and Tatayyagaru(we call them Amma and nannagaru anyway(that is telugu for mother and father) .My grandfather would buy us loads of ripe mangoes to eat in the hot afternoons while my grandmother got loads of raw and sour mangoes which were used to make numerous pickles every summer.How I miss all those pickles that my Ammamma made lovingly for all of us!
Mangoes here in UK aren't anywhere near to the Indian varieties like banginipalli,kobbari mamidi,etc.Neither are the raw ones any better.The skin is a nice green.But the moment you cut it open,there lies the yellowing flesh smiling at you ,smelling sweet,while it dawns upon you that you cannot make a truly savoury dish like mamidikaya pappu(mango dal) or Pachchadi(chutney) with it.Well,not so this time.I found nice fresh,raw and sour mangoes this time.It had been a long time since I had prepared any fresh chutneys of note,so I decided to make chutney with the mangoes.
here goes my Coriander-Mango chutney :
Ingredients:1 cup mildly sour mango pieces(skin peeled)
4 cups loosely packed fresh coriander leaves,washed
5-6 green chillies
3-4 tsp salt or as per your taste
Method: Wash the coriander leaves.I used only the leaves as the stems were too fibrous.
Peel the mango and chop into small pieces.
Put it all together along with the salt in a blender or a food processor.I had to put in some water as well,to make my blender motor crush the leaves and the mangoes.An indian style mixie or a food processor will definitely do a good job.Grind to a fine paste.
At this stage,you can add tadka/popu/seasoning to it if you like.Just heat a tablespoon of oil,add half a teaspoon of mustard seeds and 2 pinches of asafoetida.when the mustard splutters,pour it onto the chutney .
Serve this with idli,dosa,uthappam,or mix it into hot rice or upma.You can even use this as a spread for sandwiches.Use it on chats,bhelpuri,hot samosas,kachoris,whatever you fancy!Enjoy!
I served it with Dosa and idlis.I made those small idlis in the microwave using my mini muffin mould.
The other dish that I made using these mangoes is called Menthi Mukkalu,literally meaning Mukkalu(pieces,referring to mango) in a fenugreek(menthi)spiced base.This is a very famous and simple dish that most households in Andhra make.This is a kind of instant pachchadi.
The basic thing for this is the spice powder needed for the dish.I usually make a small amount during the summers.
For the spice powder:2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp fenufreek seeds
Roast them separately till the mustard starts popping(do this without oil), and the fenugreek/methi also splutters and takes on a nice brown colour, and has lost its raw smell.Grind it together in a coffee grinder or processor and keep in an airtight container.
The rest of the ingredients:
2 medium sized raw mangoes,peeled and chopped into small pieces(about 1.5 cups of chopped mango)
1.5 tbsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
4 tbsp grated jaggery/gud/bellam
4 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp of the mustard-methi powder
Method: Take a clean bowl, and mix the mango pieces with all the ingredients mentioned.Put this into a clean and dry glass jar and keep it aside for atleast 12 hours.
Soon after mixing everything together,the salt will start to drain the water from the mangoes and that will inturn melt the jaggery,creating a very fragrant sweet and wour sauce in which the mango pieces pretty much float around.
After soaking for atleast 6 hours,the mango pieces become very nicely flavoured with the fenugreek and jaggery.This really tastes very good with Utthi pappu or Mudda pappu (Plain old cooked toor dal,seasoned with nothing but salt and turmeric).It is good to eat on its own too.
It has been a really long time since I participated in any of the blog events.So this time,I am sending this to Deepa for the AFAM-mango event.
April 28, 2007
OK,friends,I thought I am being a little too lazy so I decided to post the Baklava recipe today lest the week's routine work takes its demonic hold on me!
Ingredients:500 gms Phyllo dough
500 gms of mixed nuts-I used walnuts,almonds,pistachios and cashews
250 gms of unsalted butter
1 cup sugar(granulated white)
1/2 cup Honey
1 tsp cinnamon powder
Method:First thing,preheat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas mark 4.
Chop the nuts finely.You have to really chop them fine as it gives the final product a good texture.I had a few big pieces left and I did have trouble cutting the baklava where those big pieces were lodged.
Mix the nuts with the cinnamon and keep aside.
Now for the phyllo part:
Open the package and lay the sheets open.Immediately cover them with a kitchen towel so that the sheets do not dry up.Damp kitchen towels did not work for me as I had to throw away some of the soggy sheets.
Take a 9 by 13 inch pan and brush it generously with melted butter.Phyllo does not have any fat in it,so it does need the butter.So don't skimp on it.If you find that the sheets do not exactly fit your pan,just fold over the remaining part of the dough over.
Lay one sheet in the pan.brush it with melted butter,then lay another sheet.Continue till you have 8 sheets layered.Now spread about 1/4th cup of the chopped nuts on the sheets.Top with a layer of phyllo,brush again with melted butter.Layer two sheets like wise, and spread 1/4 cup nuts and so on until you finish the nuts.
Finally,layer 8 more of the sheets brushing them with butter after each layer.Take a very sharp knife and score it into diamonds or squares as you wish.make sure that the cuts go down to the base of the baklava.Then,bake it for 45-50 mins.The baklava should be a nice golden brown and crisp.
While you are baking the baklava,make your syrup.Combine the sugar and honey with the water and cook until the sugar melts.Then lower the heat and let it simmer for about 25 mins.Let the syrup cool completely.As soon as the baklava comes out of the oven all done,pour the syrup onto it and leave it to cool.Once it is cool completely,take out of the pan and serve.This stores well in an airtight box.Store it in layers.
My Notes:I halved the recipe.You can make the syrup using sugar too.Just substitute the honey with sugar and follow as usual.I made this in a 9 by 5 inch pan.Mine doesn't look all that good because my camera phone refused to comply with me that day!
BTW,Phyllo dough or sheets can be found in the freezer section of your grocery stores.A very
good thing to remember is never to cover your phyllo sheets with damp paper towels.I used a kitchen towel to cover my phyllo sheets and it worked wonderfully.
Once the phyllo is thawed,never refreeze it.It might become a soggy mass(atleast that is what happenned to a 3rd pack that I had taken out and refroze later.
I have read over the internet that you should either pour hot syrup on cold baklava or vice versa.Doing this prevents the Baklava from becoming soggy.So choose what suits you and go ahead.This is a real attention grabber.The process is a bit laborious but you will be rewarded in the end,I promise you!
April 18, 2007
I am so very thankful to you all for your concerns and wishes.The happiest update is that Ananya has now adjusted well to the nursery.Today it is exactly one month since she started going.Today she waved a very happy "bye" to me.I felt so relieved I could have danced then and there!
In between,I managed to bake a few cakes,and decorate them.Here are a few snaps:
I baked this Van Cake for my friend M's son Neel.He turned 3 this year on 12th this month.He had a grand party with all the lovely food cooked by his mom.
Here is another peek:
I baked this Barbie cake for my friend D's daughter Aditi,who turned 2 on 17th this month.
Aside from that,I tried making Baklava for the first time from a recipe that I had copied into my computer long ago.I will post the recipe with my modifications in my next post.Take a look at the result:I had only made a small quantity,so I could not take pictures of individual pieces-they went direct from the pan to our mouths!:)
I am glad to say that I can be back to posting regularly now.Thank you all,once again,for your wishes.
April 09, 2007
My dear friends,
Thank you all ,for your concern.I am still very much around.Just getting used to life with a kid in the nursery.Ananya still has problems in adjusting, and that means more attention from mom!:)I cannot say when I will be back to blogging.But I am hoping it will be pretty soon.Meanwhile,I will be visiting your blogs,dear friends, as and when possible, and ofcourse,leaving my comments.I just hope this break is not too long because I started this blog as an outlet for myself!:)
A belated Happy Easter to you all!Keep smiling.
Posted By Vini K On Monday, April 09, 2007
March 22, 2007
Hi dear friends,
Thank you for your concern,dearest Trupti and Supriya!This was a forced break for me.Lots of things happening around.Most important of all,Mrs.Sinusitis decided to give us a visit with her two most famous assistants, cough and fever.What more can I say except she literally pushed me to the side and took over the whole household.I have absolutely no idea what we ate all these days.Most of the time it was hot pepper rasam mixed into mashed rice.We were on baby food for a week almost!(all mashed,and soft).
Secondly, Ananya started going to the nursery last week.So, a few hiccups there and my online life was completely disrupted due to these two main incidents in recent weeks.Thankfully she is doing fine now.I can take a breather as Mrs.Sinusitis decided to leave us finally.Her assistant cough is still around but we are doing much better now.
I will start blogging by next monday at the most as I need to fill up my draft folder now with great recipes and photos.See you all soon then friends!Cheers!
Posted By Vini K On Thursday, March 22, 2007
March 08, 2007
Friday night dinners are always special for us.It is our little celebration:That we can sleep a little late the following morning,and that I don't have to wake up early to pack Hubby V's lunch.Normally Ananya does not sleep long after I have woken up so Saturday and Sunday mornings are tension free for me because then I do not have to worry about having to cook with her in my hands (yes,she is 3 yrs old now and still wants to be picked up and cuddled for at least 10 mins after she wakes up) .So as usual this last Friday I was worrying over what to make:Worrying because I had been busy all day with different chores,went to visit friends because Ananya insisted on playing with her friends, and had little time left to actually plan what to make.Then came the final blow(well,sort of):Hubby V wanted Pav Bhaji!Now I do make bread and pavs often but using active dry yeast would push our dinner time to 10 pm!Then memory came to my rescue:I remembered having bought a pack of instant yeast,so the only thing to do was to search for a recipe which would make a good pav/bun.
I found it HERE
The only thing I did was to to shape the buns as usual,not the way mentioned in the recipe.The result was an incredibly soft bun.Very tasty when eaten warm from the oven.
Added on 9th March:I did not use the egg glaze suggested in the recipe.Instead,I just brushed the buns with some soft butter.Ghee can also be used.Only thing is to brush it with ghee/butter as soon as you take it out of the oven.
The Bhaji was not a difficult task.I had chopped some carrots and tomatoes earlier in the week.I looked into my freezer and found frozen peas,and viola!the bhaji came together:
Ingredients:1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup green peas(frozen or fresh)
1 cup chopped potato
1 big onion(about 3/4 cup)chopped
1 cup chopped tomato
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp grated fresh garlic
3-4 green chillies
2 tsp Pav Bhaji masala
Coriander leaves for garnishing
Method:Boil the vegetables in a pressure cooker.If you have a microwave steamer,all the better and faster.
Heat oil in a pan and add the ginger and garlic.Fry till they turn light brown.Add onions and chopped green chillies.Let fry till onion is pinkish in colour, and turns translucent.Add the chopped tomatoes.mix well,cover and cook till tomatoes are soft.
Add the pav bhaji masala to the tomatoes and mix well.Now add the boiled vegetables to the mix and keep mashing the vegetables using a ladle.The mix should be nice and mushy.If you have steamed your veggies in the microwave,you will need to add 1 cup water to the bhaji to make it to a thick gravy type consistency.
Once you have mashed the veggies,you do not need to cook the curry for long-just about 5 mins.Take it off the heat and add juice of half a lemon and chopped coriander,mix well and cover till ready to serve.
Preparing the Pavs:Slice the pavs into to using a bread knife or any serrated knife.Apply a thin layer of margarine(better than butter health wise)and toast the buns on a hot griddle until the pavs turn light brown.Serve the buns with the hot pav.
March 06, 2007
Photo courtesy:Sandeepa of Bong Cook Book
I respect the printed word.More than that,I respect the brain behind it.and by that I mean the one who has actually created it,not the one who copies it.That is why I was so shocked when
I read about Yahoo's content theft from Suryagayathri's blog.I also applaud Inji pennu for organising this protest.I am also active on another forum where me and a few other members were victims of plagiarism.Fortunately,the technical staff over there immediately took note of our complaints and the plagiarising member was barred from the forums.When small websites can do that,why not Yahoo?Why should they not apologise for a mistake committed?
Plagiarism is indeed a very annoying plague that eats away at creativity.Yahoo,you being the big corporation here,why don't you set an example by apologising?You will only gain more respect from us if you do that.
We bloggers blog our of our own interests, but that does not mean that you can just lift content from us without so much as an acknowledgement of the source!We put in a lot of effort to write up our posts and put on pictures.Ours is a labour of love.Please respect that.and acknowledge us.That is all we ask,apart from an apology to Suryagayathri and other bloggers from whom content has been stolen.
Posted By Vini K On Tuesday, March 06, 2007
March 01, 2007
Life does tend to become monotonous at times,but blog events are such a wonderful inspiration to cook and experiment when everything else fails to excite.For the JFI potato which is being hosted by Vaishali,today I wanted to create something very exciting and new with the humble potato.This is what I came up with:Marbled koftas.Marbled,you ask?Well,read on to find out!
Ingredients:2 big potatoes(Boiled and mashed)
1 cup of peas(boiled and mashed)
1 big onion(about 3/4 cup,chopped)
5-6 medium sized tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
3-4 green chillies
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp mint paste(Grind mint leaves in the processor till fine)
1 teaspoon amchur
Coriander to garnish
1/4 cup Yogurt,beaten till smooth
1 tbps each cashews and raisins
Method:First,boil the potatoes and peas.Mash the potatoes along with 1/2 tsp of salt and keep aside.
Now,mix the peas with the mint paste,1/2 tsp salt, and mash ,doesn't matter whether it is a coarse mash or a fine one.
Now spread the mashed potato on a piece of waxed paper or cling wrap/plastic wrap.spread the peas paste over it evenly and sprinkle with chopped cashews and raisins.
Pick up one end of the wax paper and roll slowly.The potato will break,so don't worry.This is how it is going to get the marbled effect.Roll roughly into a thick roll,then break off small pieces and make smooth balls out if this mixture.Coat in a thin batter of cornflour and water and deep fry till golden brown.
In a deep pan,heat 2 tbsp oil and fry the chopped onions,garlic,ginger and green chillies till brown.Add chopped tomatoes, and cook till they are softened.
Cool for 5 mins,then grind into a smooth paste in the blender,adding 1 cup water.
Now put this paste into the pan again with amchur,garam masala,salt and chilli powder,if needed.
Let it come to a boil.Reduce heat and let it simmer for 10 mins.
Mix in 2 tablespoons of smooth yogurt.
In a deep dish,pour the gravy,then arrange the koftas in the gravy.Garnish with chopped coriander and yogurt and serve immediately with hot parathas.
My Notes:You can bake your koftas instead of frying,though I must admit,frying it gives it a very good taste.
Potato being the versatile vegetable it is,you can even spice this potato mixture a bit and make bondas out of it.Enjoy!We had it for dinner today and we all liked it.Ananya even had some plain koftas with sauce!
Update:It has been a long time since I contributed to VKN's FAHC cook book.So I decided to send in this one for FAHC.
February 22, 2007
Eversince I saw Asha's post about scones,I was wondering if there was a way I could make savoury scones.Our local store named Somerfield brings out a great magazine every month with lots of recipes and meal ideas,though I cannot use them all as most are based on non-vegetarian ingredients.But I found a great recipe for a savoury scone,the recipe of which I had pinned into my file of recipes.I tried them out recently and they came out great.So without much ado,here is the recipe:
Ingredients:175 gms Self rising flour
1.5 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp chilli powder(not in the original recipe:just my addition)
50 gms butter
60 ml milk
1 egg(I omitted the egg, added a little more milk)
50 gms Grated mature cheddar cheese
50 gms Finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
Method:Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas mark 6.
The butter should not be too soft.Cube the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour until you get the consistency of fine bread crumbs.
Add the milk to the flour(if you use egg,beat it with the milk before adding to flour) along with the grated cheese and the chopped sun dried tomatoes.Mix well until you have a smooth dough.
Roll into a round about 3 cm thick(I rolled it out thinner and it came out fine).
Cut into scones using a round cutter ,or if you donot have a cutter,use a knife to make either squares or triangles.
Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for about 15 mins until well risen and golden brown.
Serve warm.I served these sliced,and warm with some tomato sauce on top.This is yummy,for a quick breakfast or a snack.
My Notes:The original recipe yield is 6 scones but with the thickness recommended,I would have got about 3-4 3 inch scones.
I rolled out the dough a little thinner and the scones were great!I also omitted the egg and used a little more milk,about 2 tbsp more.
This is very yummy served warm and freshly made.But I stored them in air tight boxes and these were great reheated in the microwave for a few seconds.
You could serve these with any sauce of your choice.Enjoy!
This is my entry to Coffee's MBP event.I just hope she is going to excuse my lateness!
February 17, 2007
Tiramisu literally means,"Pick me up" in Italian.It is traditionally made using Marsala,or any other wine.Sometimes coffee liqueur is added to it to bring out the coffee flavour.There are thousands of recipes for Tiramisu.Originally,it is made using whipped raw egg whites.There are versions where Kahlua or Tia Maria are also used to flavour it.You can read more about Tiramisu HERE.
When I was newly married,living in New Jersey(USA),we used to have weekly potlucks-just the ladies and kids.So one day we decided to have a grand potluck party for the husbands as well.I tasted Tiramisu for the first time when one of my friends' husband had made it specially for the partySince then,I have always wanted to make it.The creaminess of the custard and the whipped cream along with the coffee-soaked sponge fingers is absolutely delicious.
So started my search for the recipe.And I found loads of them.There was only one major hurdle-the wine.One time I bought Tiramisu at one of the stores here, and it had Marsala wine in it.I then found out that I did not like the taste of wine at all.I started thinking what to do.The next ingredient that was hard to find was mascarpone cheese.So with a little help from HERE
I put together some mascarpone cheese.
A little inspiration from HERE,the use of templates to dust the cocoa powder helped me to create a gorgeous looking dessert at home.Thanks,Archana!
Ok Ok,I'll stop the blabbering now and take you to the recipe straightaway:
Ingredients:20 Savoiardi fingers/sponge fingers
1 tbsp Instant coffee dissolved in 1 cup hot water
568 ml whipping cream or, double cream(UK)/heavy whipping cream(US)
For the Custard:1 cup milk
2 teaspoons custard powder/cornflour(UK)/cornstarch(US)
3/4 cup sugar
For the Mascarpone cheese:
450 gms of mascarpone cheese
350 Gms Medium fat cream cheese
1 tbsp unsalted Butter
1/4 cup double cream(UK)/heavy whipping cream(US)
For assembling:Either one 9 inch springform pan or small individual bowls.
Method:First,make the custard.Now normally this recipe uses a zabaglione,which is a custard made by adding beaten egg yolks to milk and then stirring it over a double boiler until it thickens.I don' normally make egg custards,so I took a shortcut here.I used normal custard powder.If you donot find custard powder(although with so many Indian all over the world now,I doubt it)you could use cornstarch to thicken your milk.If you are using cornstarch,add 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence to flavour the custard.
Cool it a little(say,2-3 mins,not more) and then lay a piece of baking parchment on top of the custard and put it in the fridge until cool.Please donot use wax paper.You could also use cling film/plastic wrap although I don't recommend it cos I donot think plastics coming in touch with hot food make it safe enough for consumption.This is to prevent a layer forming over the custard.
Now,for the mascarpone cheese:If you can find mascarpone cheese,well and good.Otherwise,this version works very well.It was really close to it.Let the butter and cream cheese come to room temperature.Beat well to combine both, then add in the heavy/double cream.Mix until incorporated.Donot whip.
Once the custard is cool,take it out of the fridge and add the mascarpone cheese into it and mix well.
Mix the instant coffee granules into hot water and let cool.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form and keep in a cool place(Do this last so that you can use it as quickly as possible without melting it.
The Assembly:You could use the whole sponge fingers as they are,just dip them very quickly into the coffee and lay in the bottom and sides of the pan.I made individual ones,so I sliced the fingers into two and then again cut them into half to fit my serving bowls.These fingers become soggy very quickly so if you find that your cookies are absorbing too much liquid by the dunking method,use a pastry brush to coat them with the coffee.I sliced my sponge fingers and they were thinner so I brushed my sponge fingers with the coffee.
Now,layer 2 tbsp of the mascarpone cheese-custard mix onto the first layer of the cookies(for individual servings or half of the custard for a 9 inch pan.Top with some whipped cream(a thin layer will do:In fact,most recipes do not have the whipped cream in the first layer).Now,prepare another layer of the cookies by dunking in/brushing with coffee.Lay them on the whipped cream evenly.Once again,layer the remaining mascarpone cheese-custard mix over the cookies and then again top with the whipped cream.
Put some cocoa powder into a small tea strainer and use it to dust the top of the tiramisu.Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
You could sprinkle grated chocolate instead of the cocoa powder too.
My Notes:I made it the very first time for V Day and it turned out very good indeed.
I have only made it in individual servings and it yielded me 9 very generous servings.If you like smaller portions,make it in one big pan so that you can take out smaller portions.Although once you start eating it,you will not stop until it is all finished.
It took me close to 2 hours to prepare the whole thing:right from the custard,the mascarpone cheese to the assembly.
You could even make the custard one day and assemble the whole thing the next day.
I used medium fat cream cheese and part skimmed milk as that is what I had at home.Full fat cream cheese and whole milk would be great.
Tired of reading the whole thing?But you will be in 7th heaven after those 6 hours.I assure you.So go ahead,give it a try.Pamper yourself a little.After all,you can afford a nice treat once in a while,can't you?
Added on 18th Feb:This may look very difficult to make but once you get all your ingredients ready,then it is really easy to do it.I wanted to bring some beauty to the way it looks,which is why I piped my whipped cream.You could just spread it plainly with a knife or spatula.Making the custard using custard powder really makes the job easier.I would love to hear how it turned out for you!
February 14, 2007
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!Some tears,some Tiramisu and some chocolate mousse,And- loads of kisses for my little one!
Happy Valentines day To you all,dear friends.I hope you all had a nice and memorable time with
I was making plans to celebrate this special day when yesterday, my little one fell and had a head injury.She required some stitches and I was in no mood to go ahead with the celebrations.The way she cried and the injury she got,put me off of everything else.Fortunately for me and her,she slept well last night and played as usual today.
Looking at her bubbly and cheerful self made me think that she deserves a special treat for the sweet one she has been.She amazed me yesterday by not crying even once when the doctor was putting the sutures on her scalp.She proved the doctor wrong!That's my brave little girl!
So to make her feel special and loved even more,I made a special dessert for her which she loves-Chocolate mousse with grated chocolate on top.
And for my Valentine,my dearest Hubby V,I made Tiramisu.
I also decided to send this as my entry to Trupti's Little Chefs in the Kitchen series.Here is my little one helping me mix the cheese for the Tiramisu:
I will be updating my blog with the recipe for Tiramisu very soon but for now,enjoy the photos!
This is also my entry to Pooja's Valentines special.
February 12, 2007
I first blogged about murukku when I started this blog. But the recipe that I used that day was a little different .Try as I might,I did not get the perfect spiral shapes out of the dough-the dough kept breaking off.So I delved into my faithful friend-my recipe diary and fished out this recipe.Here it is:
Ingredients:1 cup/200 gms Urad dal
3 cups/400 gms Raw rice
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp Jeera/Cumin seeds
1 tbsp Sesame seeds
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp chilli powder
500 ml of vegetable/canola oil to deepfry the murukkus.
Method:Soak the raw rice in water for 2 hours.Drain the water and grind to a smooth batter to the consistency of dosa dough.
Meanwhile,dry-roast the urad dal in a skillet until the dal emits a nice aroma and turns a nice light brown.
Cool until lukewarm and then grind to a fine powder using your mixer.
Now Heat the oil in a deep and wide skillet/kadhai.
Now break off a lime sized ball of dough and place into the murukku maker.Press our murukkus onto pieces of parchment/wax paper.I cut 4 inch by 4 inch squares of baking parchment and pressed my murukkus onto them.Carefully transfer them into hot oil. This is the murukku maker I used.
Test the oil before putting your murukkus in:Put a small piece of dough into the oil and see how it reacts.If it sizzles and comes up immediately,oil is ready.But if the dough browns too quickly,reduce the heat.Medium heat is best for making crisp,light murukkus.
Depending upon how wide your pan is,you can add upto 5 or 6 murukkus.I pressed out murukkus of 3 inch diameter.Fry till they turn golden brown.Drain on paper towels and store in air-tight tins.
The butter is essential as it make the murukkus light and they melt in your mouth.
You could adjust the chilli powder according to how hot you would like it.I generally use less chili because my daughter won't eat anything with chillies in it!
February 08, 2007
After my daughter's birthday party,quite a few of my friends wanted to learn how to make the cake that I had baked for my daughter.So today I was busy with that and I taught my friends how to make the cake.My friend Ruchi wanted me to decorate the cake as well,so that is what I did this evening.here is the cake I decorated today:I was not entirely satisfied though,because the writing got a little irregular.But I am learning...
The only difference is that for both my daughter's birthday cake as well as this cake ,I used margarine instead of butter.This cake was baked in a 9 inch square pan and I increased the proportions too.This is quite an easy and versatile recipe which can be adapted to any flavour.Here are the proportions I used today:
25o gms of self rising flour
250 gms of margarine
250 gms of sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla essence/extract.
The original recipe for the cake ,mixing method and the temperature for baking the cake can be found HERE.
February 05, 2007
Hello dear friends,
I am back!We had a grand party yesterday.It was a lunch party.Ananya loved the cake and was very very eager to open her gifts as well.She has got beautiful gifts from all of her friends here.The party went well and everyone enjoyed the food.
I had prepared Coconut rice ,Navratan Korma,Sambar,Bobbatlu(Puran poli),Curry puffs and DahiVada.My friend Mahua made my work easier by taking on the task of making PalakPaneer(and might I add,she makes the best palak paneer I have ever tasted).There were a total of 25 guests and 9 kids.
All of my friends pitched in to help me while I was making the preparations for the party.Some helped in decorating the room while others helped me while I was preparing the vadas for the Dahi Vada.One of my friends helped me make the coconut rice,so all in all,it was a great time we had together.
I am thankful to all of my friends who helped me.Here are some pictures of the food:
Cupcakes for the kids:
The Party Platter:
Clockwise in the bigger plate:Coconut rice,Curry puffs,Navratan Korma and Palak Paneer.
Clockwise in the smaller bowls:Sambar,Puran Poli,Cake,Dahi Vadas.
The Birthday Cake was a Strawberry,Vanilla and Chocolate layer cake sandwiched with a thin layer of buttercream and iced with buttercream flavoured with a strawberry extract and a few drops of red food colouring to give it a nice pink.I could not take a better picture of the cake,as you all know how it is with a nervous birthday girl surrounded by her friends all eager to get the cake cutting underway and having the cake.I am hoping some of my friends might have a better picture of the cake so as soon as I get a nicer picture,I shall post it here.And of course,there was the ubiquitous Coke and the Fanta.
I made the cupcakes for the kids as most were about 2 or 3 yrs of age.I tried a little experiment by making three layer cupcakes, and thankfully,they came out well.One of my friends told me that even though they are for kids,they were great.I guess,all Mums might have had a taste of the cupcakes too.You all know,that kids are interested in cake so long as there is cream, and the leftover is always for Mom to finish off!
I am glad that the party was a success and we all had a good time together.I was very very tired at the end of the day,but the best thing was that my friend Deepa brought us some freshly made hot coffee in the evening when all the guests had departed.It freshened us up a bit but most importantly,made me realise that life is no good without the affection of loved ones.I will remember this party to the end of my life because not only did I cook for 25 people,but also without all the help from my friends,I would never have been able to do it.Through out the week when I was busy shopping for the party(the veggies,disposables,gifts for kids)I would leave my daughter with my friends and they took care of her for me for a few hours every day.Even on the day of the party,I left my daughter at my friend Deepa's place until I had finished some preliminary work.I cannot tell you how blessed I feel I am to have such good hearted friends.And I am glad to have you all too,to read your wishes and comments for Ananya and appreciation for me makes me feel so proud.Your comments on the heart shaped cake I made for Ananya boosted my confidence a lot and this time,even though I made 3 layers and larger amounts of the cake,it was literally a breeze.Thank you All of You,for being with me all the time!God Bless you all and keep you happy.