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Monday, March 17, 2014

Irish Beef Stew

MmmMmmMMmm so satisfying :-)

(serves: 2)
(cook time: almost 2 hours)

Stew meat 1 1/2 lbs (I prefer chunks close to 2 1/2" by 1 1/2" - they will shrink while cooking)
Yellow onion 1/4 cup (chopped fine)
Celery 1/4 cup (chopped fine)
Garlic 1/2 Tbs (minced fine)
Green chillies 1 tsp (mined fine) *optional
Fresh parsley leaves 3-4 Tbs (chopped)
Flour 2 Tbs
Red potatoes 2-3 medium sized cut into thirds
Carrots cut into large chunks 1 1/4 cup
Green beans 1 cup
Tomato sauce 3 Tbs
Dried thyme 1/2 tsp
Dried dill weed 1/2 tsp
Sweet paprika 1/2 tsp
Bayleaf 1-2
Whole cloves 3-4
Fresh coarse pepper 1/4 tsp
Beef stock 2 cups
Guinness extra stout 1 cup *optional (replace with water or beef stock)
Some olive oil
Salt to taste

  1. Heat up some oil in a large pot and brown the beef chunks on high heat on all sides. Remove the meat and keep aside. This is just for color and sealing in the juices don't worry about fully cooking the meat.
  2. In the same pot start to brown the onions. You may need to add some extra oil. When the onions are transparent add celery, chillies, garlic and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Then add some flour and stir around for a minute or so. To avoid lumps flour to oil ratio should be equal.
  3. Pour the liquids into the pot and use an immersion blender to mix in the onion mixture thoroughly.
  4. In goes the tomato sauce, the herbs, pepper, bay leaf and cloves. Bring it to a boil. 
  5. Add the meat back into the pot, lower the heat and simmer covered for an hour.
  6. I like to add the vegetables in intervals to ensure they retain their shape and don't become too mushy. After an hour of slow cooking add the potatoes and cook covered on low heat for 15 mins. Then add the carrots and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Then finally add the green beans and simmer covered for another 10 minutes.
  7. Remove bay leaf and cloves. Done.
  8. Sprinkle some fresh parsley on top. Serve while hot.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

ChimarrĂ£o - Tea from Brazil

Coolest tea I ever tasted :-)
Made from dried yerba mate leaves... Yummy!

Hopefully soon I will upload a video on how to make it.


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Friday, March 7, 2014

An Indian Thaali From Karnataka

There is absolutely no way that I'll be able to remember or pronounce the names of the stuff I made today :-) And I really really hope that I titled everything correctly! 

I wanted to make a special vegetarian meal for a few buddies. I decided that south Indian would be the best way to go.... south Karnataka to be exact. I normally love making idlis, sambar and dosas quite often. But today I was more adventurous!

My opinion is that most foods are prepared simple and tempered with spices afterwards. I learned that rice is better. The preferred flavor is sour. Sambar can be eaten every single day! And most common spices are mustard seeds, Hing powder, turmeric powder, Byadagi and Guntur chillies, urad and channa dal, tamarind, fresh coconut and curry leaves. What I ended up making for my friends is my interpretation of food from that region. I had lots of help in learning the techniques from various brilliantly written blogs.
Wikipedia and Google translate :-)

Note: Serving suggestions are made on the fact that there are so many sides in this meal.

First row (L to R): Massoppu, Mavin Kai Gojju, Hurlikayi Palya, Banna Sautekayi Palya
Middle row (L to R): Hasi Menasinakai Bhajji, Alugadde Bhajji, Hesaru Bele Kosambari
Last row (L to R):Nellikayi Thokku, Menthe Soppu Chatni, Verkadalai Chatni, Byadagi Chatni

Top row (L to R): Chaas (plain, dill, pepper), Dharwad Peda
Middle row (L to R): Puliyogare, Tovve with Ragi Mudde on skewers and homemade butter (Benne)
Last row (L to R): Steamed basmati rice, Sambar

Main Course

Puliyogare (Tamarind flavored rice)

I love this! Basically puliyogare is made by combining already cooked rice with a tamarind based paste. The paste or a powdered form of it can be bought from a store. Using a mix is definitely easier but I like a challenge and made this from scratch about a week ago at my good friend Sharika's place :-) It was a LOT of paste... probably enough to make rice for a dozen large hungry people. I froze the extra and used just a tiny amount for us today - An elf and a couple of hungry but smallish people.

(makes 2 cups of paste)
(cook time 30 mins) 

Urad dal 1/4 cup 
Channa dal 1/4 cup
Sesame seeds 1/3 cup
Fenugreek seeds 2 Tbs
Cumin seeds 2 Tbs
Mustard seeds 1 Tbs
Coriander 1 Tbs
Hing powder 1/2 tsp
Whole peppercorns 1 Tbs
Guntur chillies 10 or so
Jaggery (liquified)  About 2 Tbs
Curry leaves a small handful
Tamarind pulp 16 oz
(I like using a concentrate called Nuac Me Chua by a company called Po Kwon. I think its from Thailand. Locals... you can get it easily from Mayuri)
Ghee 2-3 Tbs

  1. The first step is to make the Pulikachal. This is the paste to which rice is mixed later and the finished dish is called Puliyogare. Ok... so to make the paste you will first need to roast the two dals in a frying pan on medium heat. Use a little bit of ghee for this.
  2. Once the dals are slightly browned take out 1/3 of them and keep aside in a separate bowl.... we are gonna use these later. 
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients (minus the tamarind paste) into the frying pan and continue to toast the spices for another 5 minutes. You might need to add some more ghee at this point.
  4. Allow this to cool down a bit and then grind it all up to make a semi coarse powder. Keep this aside for later use.
  5. Remember the roasted dals that you saved earlier in step 2? Add those in a large sauce pan. Add tamarind pulp to this and boil gently for 15 mins on low heat. Stir every now and again to prevent burning.
  6. After the tamarind has thickened a bit you can now add the powdered spices to it. Mix well and cook for another 10 minutes on low heat. Done!
  1. Now in order to make puliyogare you will need to heat up some ghee in a large wok.
  2. Add some curry leaves, dried chillies, raw peanuts and mustard seeds and let them cook for a minute.
  3. At this point you can add some tamarind paste (Pulikachal) into the wok. Use the back of your spatula to help break it up a bit and then add cooked rice into it. Mix well. Cover and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes on low heat. This helps incorporate the flavors fully into the rice grains. You can also mix in some freshly grated coconut to this.
NOTE: I prefer using rice from the fridge that has been cooked earlier and is cold. The grains stay intact when you mix the tamarind sauce into it. Freshly cooked rice is soft and breaks easily and thus creates a mashed up look.

Sambar (A mixed vegetable stew)

Hearty stuff... Love it :-)
Sambar is eaten in all parts of India and is primarily made with various mixed vegetables cooked into a soupy stew with a special spice powder addded to it. It may or may not have lentils in it depending on the region or your mood. When I cook sambar I usually use a store bought spice mix.  However today I made the spice powder me-self. Kinda proud of it :-)

(makes about 6 Tbs)
Ingredients (For the spice mix)

Urad dal 2 Tbs
Channa dal 2 Tbs
Whole peppercorns 1/2 Tbs
Corainder 2/3 Tbs
Some Bydagi chillies 5-6 (this is what gives the spice mix a red color)
A few Guntur chillies 2-3
Fresh tamarind pulp about 1" diameter (when rolled up in a tightly in a ball)
Jaggery 1 Tbs
Bay leaf 1 Large
Curry leaves 3-4
Some ghee
(The following 2 ingredients are optional and are not traditionally used. I added those to increase the sourness, add some sweetness and to create another dimension to the flavor)
*Amchur pieces 3 (2"inch pieces)
*Anardana 2 Tbs

  1. Roast all the ingredients on a frying pan with some ghee. Use low heat and stir occasionly to ensure even browning.
  2. Let this cool down a bit.
  3. Grind to make a coarse powder.
Ingredients (For the stew)
(serves 4)
(cook time 15 mins)

Fresh okra 1/3 cup
Tomato  1/3 cup
Daikon radish 1/3 cup
Eggplant 1/3 cup
Onion 2 Tbs
Spice mix to taste (I used 2 1/2Tbs)

  1. Heat up some ghee and start to soften the onions.
  2. After about 3-5 minutes stir in the cut vegetables. You can cut them any way you like as long as they are about equal in size.
  3. Add the reserved mango water (or just plain water) about 2 cups should be plenty.
  4. Mix in the spice powder in amounts you like.
  5. Season with salt.
  6. Cover. Let this boil for 15-20 minutes. Done!

Tovve (Lentil curry)

A very simple lentil curry. Normally you would add some tamarind to it but since I cooked it in the water saved from boiling raw mangoes I felt that there was no need for extra sourness. I used masoor dal (orange in color) and washed moong dal (yellow in color)

(serves 4)
(cook time 25 minutes)

Masoor dal 3 Tbs
Washed moong dal 3 Tbs
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

For Tempering:
Ghee 2-3 Tbs
Hing powder 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 2-3 (broken)

  1. Boil the lentils in 2 cups of water (I used water reserved from boiling the raw mangoes)
  2. Continue to boil until lentils are cooked - about 20 - 25 minutes.
  3. Add turmeric and season with salt.
  4. Temper with ingredients listed above. Done.

Ragi Mudde (A dumpling made of finger millet flour)

Frankly I didn't know how I would feel about this when I started making it. Turned out quite nice! I was pleasantly surprised. Very delish with the Sambar and Tovve! Great alternative for rice and flat breads.

(makes 8 1 1/2" diameter balls)
(cook time 10 minutes)

Water 1 cup
Finger millet flour 1/2 cup  
(When I went to the store - Mayuri - to get this all I saw were large bags of the flour. I needed only a little bit, I wasn't even sure if I would like it! So I got something labeled Ragi Rava Dosa - it had some channa dal and mustard seeds in it and was in a small bag.)
  1. Boil the water in a sauce pan. 
  2. Add salt.
  3. Add the flour.
  4. Stir until the mixture becomes thick.
  5. Continue stirring rigorously. The mixture will begin to turn into a soft dough.
  6. Cover and steam for 5 minutes on low heat.
  7. Once cooked take it out on a flat surface. Knead it a little bit.  Rub some ghee on your hands and then form into round balls. Done!

Side Dishes

Hurlikayi Palya (A dry curry made with green beans) 

Hundreds of ways you can cook this up. I made this fairly simple with green beans, tomatoes and fresh lime juice.

(serves 4)
(cook time 15 mins)

Green beans 1 1/2 cup - Cut into 1 1/2" lengths
Tomato 1 large - Cut into thick slices
Fresh key lime juice 2-3 Tbs

For tempering:
Ghee 1 Tbs
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Cumin 1/2 tsp
Hing powder a pinch which is about 1/16th tsp 
Fenugreek seeds 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves 1-2 broken into pieces
Dried Baydagi chilli 1 broken into pieces

  1. Steam the green beans until they become tender.
  2. Grill the tomatoes slices in a non stick fry pan with a few drops of ghee
  3. Then add the green beans into the same frying pan and stir fried gently for 2-3 minutes. 
  4. Add the lime juice and mix well. Season with salt and take out the cooked vegetables and set them aside in a serving bowl.  Keep warm.
  5. When ready to serve heat up some more ghee in a small sauce pan and add the spices to it. Once the spices are sputtering and bouncing pour this mixture over the cooked vegetables. Done.

Banna Sautekayi Palya (Dry curry made with dosakai cucumber)

A very quick, easy and uncomplicated preparation.

(serves 4) 
(cook time 15 mins) 

Dosakai cucumber 1 cup (I left the peel on. Remove seeds and chop into 1/2 chunks)
Onion 1/2 cup (sliced thin)
Garlic 1/2 tsp (minced)
Ghee 1 Tbs

For tempering:
Ghee 1/2 Tbs
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds  1/4 tsp
Urad dal 1 tsp

  1. Heat up some ghee in a fry pan and start to cook the onions.
  2. When the onions are soft add the garlic and cut up cucumbers to the pan.
  3. Season with salt and add a splash of water to create steam.
  4. Turn the heat to medium and cook covered until the cucumbers become soft and the onions are browned.
  5. Temper with the spices listed above.

Massoppu (Sauteed leafy greens)

You can use lots of different types of greens for this. Following is how I made it.
(serves 4)
(cook time 15 mins)  

Cooked toor dal about 1/2 cup
Spinach leaves 4 cups
Mustard greens 2 cups
Fenugreek leaves 1 cup
Mint 1/4 cup
Onion 2/3 cup (sliced thin)
Garlic 1 Tbs (minced)
Green chillies  1 Tbs (minced)
Ghee 1-2 Tbs

For tempering:
Ghee 1/2 Tbs
Sesame seeds 1/2 tsp

  1. Heat up the ghee in a wide frying pan and start to brown the onions.
  2. Once the onions are light brown add the cooked lentils, garlic and green chillies. Continue to cook over medium high heat for a minute or so.
  3. Add all the greens into the frying pan. This may seem like a lot but the leaves will begin to lose volume in under a minute.
  4. Transfer everything into a blender once all the leaves have welted down. Blend until a smooth paste is formed.
  5. Return this paste into the frying pan season with salt and continue to cook for another 5-6 minutes on medium high heat.
  6. Temper with sesame seeds towards the end. Done.

Mavin kai(serves 4)(cook time 15 mins)

Mavin Kai Gojju (Raw mango curry)

(serves 4)
(cook time 15 mins) 
Raw mango 1 Large (skin removed, chopped up into bite sized chunks)Ginger 1/2 Tbs (minced)
Garlic 1/2 Tbs (minced_
Green chillies 1 Tbs (minced)
Onion 1/3 cup (sliced thin)
Yogurt 1/3 cup
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Ghee 1-2 Tbs

For tempering:
Ghee 1-2 Tbs
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Hing 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves 2-3 (broken)
Coconut flakes 1 tsp

  1. Boil the mangoes until they become soft. About 6-8 minutes (SAVE THE WATER - I used it to make tovve)
  2. Take out the cooked mangoes and keep aside for later use.
  3. Heat up some ghee in a frying pan.
  4. Cook the onions until they become very dark brown.
  5. Add the turmeric, ginger, garlic and green chillies cook for another 30 seconds or so.
  6. Take out this mixture and blend with some yogurt.
  7. Pour the yogurt mixture back into the frying pan... add the boiled mangoes to this.
  8. Cook covered for 10 minutes on medium heat. Stir once or twice.
  9. Temper with spices listed above. Done.

Hasi Menasinakai Bhajji (Batter fried green chillies)
Alugadde Bhajji (Batter fried potato slices) 

Bhajjis are typically any type of vegetable dipped in batter and then deep fried. I chose to make stuffed chillies and plain potato bhajjis today. You can definitely make the chilli bhajjis plain too without the filling, just dip the peppers in batter and fry away. But I wanted this meal to be extra special and decided to make a semi-dry garlicky stuffing consisting primarily of dried nuts and fruits.

(serves 4 people)
(prep time 20 mins)
(cook time 5-8 mins)
Ingredients (For the filling)

Serrano peppers 6-8 large (For mild bajjis use jalapenos or use banana peppers for even milder ones)
Raw almonds 1 1/2 Tbs (chopped very fine)
Raw cashews 1 1/2 Tbs (chopped very fine)
Toasted peanuts 1 1/2 Tbs (chopped very fine) - and by toasted I mean you start with raw peanuts and brown them in a frying pan with a drop or two of oil.
Dried unsweetened coconut flakes 2-3 Tbs
Dried unsweetened prunes 1 Tbs (chopped very fine)
(I used prunes because I prefer the slight sour taste it has, you can use raisins or dates or even some brown sugar instead) 
White onion about 1/4 cup (sliced thinly)Fresh garlic 2/3 Tbs (minced very fine) 
Ghee (clarified butter) 2 Tbs
Sesame seeds 3/4 Tbs
Black cumin seeds 1/3 Tbs
Salt 1/2 tsp


Besan (chickpea flour) 1/2 cup
Rice flour 2 rounded Tbs
Freshly ground pepper 1/3 tsp
Hing powder (asafoetida) 1/3 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Baking soda 1/3 tsp 
Fresh key lime juice 3 Tbs
Soda water enough to make a smooth batter
(I feel that using soda water - or beer - makes crispier crusts. You can of course use plain water here)

  1. Whisk together all the ingredients listed under batter in a large bowl and keep aside for later use.
  2. Heat the fat in a large non stick pan. Start by frying the onions on medium high heat until they turn a light golden color and then throw in the minced garlic and continue to cook for another minute or so.
  3. Turn off the heat and mix in all the other ingredients - the nuts,  the coconut, the prunes and the spices everything - combine well and leave aside to cool down for easy handling later.
  4. You start by making pockets in the pepper so that the stuffing can go in. Simply make a lengthwise slit on one side of the pepper. It should in the center and make sure that the top and bottom of the pepper remain intact.
  5. Scrape out whatever seeds you easily can with the back of a spoon or use the point of your knife.
  6. Place the stuffing in the pocket you just created.
  7. Dip the stuffed chillies in the batter, shake off excess and then deep fry for 5-8 mins or until golden brown all over. I prefer the crusts to be very thin and just barely there so I dip lightly. Done.
Method for the potato Bhajji 
  1. Slice the potato into thin slices about 1/8" thick. I used red potatoes and left the skin on.
  2. Wash the slices in cold water and pat dry.
  3. Dip individual slices in the same batter. You don't have to but I thinned out the batter a little by adding a few tablespoons of water for this one because I wanted a thinner crust.
  4. Shake off extra batter and deep fry on medium high heat until golden brown. Done. 

Hesaru Bele Kosambari (Mung sprout salad)

A very common, no frills and easy to put together salad. The base is sprouted mung beans and freshly grated coconut. To this you can add chopped cucumbers, carrots, sweet corn, bell peppers, squash or any other veggie you have handy in whatever ratios you like. Once you have all the fresh ingredients in bowl you top it all off with spices, herbs and lentils heated up in oil - this is called tempering - the most common choices are hing powder, black mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves, green chillies, urad dal and channa dal. I decided not to temper the salad simply because I wanted to have something fresh tasting and light on the platter.

(serves 4 people)
(prep time 15 mins - sprouting the beans will take maybe 2 days)

Sprouted mung beans 2/3 cup
Carrots 1/3 cup (julienned )
Daikon radish 1/3cup (julienned)
Fresh grated coconut 1/2 cup
Juice of 1 large fresh key lime

For tempering: (I chose not to temper the salad)
Ghee 1 Tbs
Urad dal 1/2 Tbs
Fresh curry leaves 1-2 (torn into halves)
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Hing powder 1/4 tsp

  1. Mix all the chopped vegetables in a large bowl.
  2. Heat up the ghee in a frying pan first add the urad dal stir and cook for a minute and  then add everything else and cook on high heat for another minute or two.
  3. Pour it over the salad.


Nellikayi Thokku (Indian Gooseberry Chutney)

It's a fact - no Indian feast is complete without some sort of chutney on the menu. A friend of mine had recently introduced me to the Indian gooseberry (Amla in Hindi) and the many health benefits linked with the tiny green fruit :-) She would make it very simply by boiling them in water with some garlic slices, green chillies, salt and a little bit of ghee. I have made it her way several times but today something different and a tiny bit more elaborate.

(makes close to 2/3 cup)
(time 15 mins)

Indian gooseberries 12 oz - I got them from Mayuri. The package contained 11 large to medium sized fruit.
Ghee 2 Tbs
Urad dal 1 tsp
Channa dal 1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds 1/3 tsp
Dried chillies 1-2 ( I used Guntur chillies)
Salt to taste

  1. Boil the gooseberries in water until they become soft... about 10 mins or so. They will break up into wedges. At this point take out the stones and keep aside. (SAVE THE WATER - I used it to make sambar)
  2. Heat some ghee in a small cooking pot.
  3. Stir fry the lentils on medium heat until they become light brown. Add the dried chillies and the spices. Cook for another minute.
  4. Now add the boiled gooseberries into the pot and stir. Done.

Verkadalai Chatni (Peanut chutney)

(makes 2/3 cup)
(prep time 10 minutes)

Raw peanuts 1/2 cup
Fresh shredded coconut 1/4 cup
Yogurt 1/4 cup
Dried red chillies 1-2 medium sized
Fresh tamarind pulp about 1/2" diameter (when rolled up in a tightly in a ball)
Hing powder 1/3 tsp
Water 1/3 cup

For tempering:
Ghee 1 Tbs
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 2-3 (torn up)
Dried red chillies 1 large (torn up)

  1. Toast the peanuts in a frying pan. Use a few drops of ghee.
  2.  Blend evrything together until a smooth paste is formed.
  3. Temper with the ingredients listed towards the end. Done.

Menthe Soppu Chatni (Mint chutney) 
A very common condiment. This is how I normally make it. I wouldn't necessarily call it south Indian style. You can use just mint for this but I had some cilantro lying around so I combined the two. This freezes well. I usually place the extra in ice cube trays, cover with saran and freeze it for later use. You can also add this chutney to yogurt and make a quick raita.

(makes about 2/3 cup)
(prep time 10 minutes)

Mint leaves 1 1/2 cup
Ciliantro 1 cup 
Green chillies 1-2 medium sized
Garlic cloves 2-3 large sized
Onion 2-3 Tbs (chopped)
A good splash of apple cider vinegar

Macadamia oil 1 Tbs (or some other mild oil)
Water 2-3 Tbs (depends how thick or thin you want this chutney to be)

  1. Put everything in a blender and blend away until smooth. You might need to stop and scrape of the sides every once in a while. Done.
Byadagi Chatni (Byadagi chilli chutney) 

I had the good fortune to sample something similar to this at someone's house. Fell in love at first bite! That particular chutney was made by someone's mom and brought from India. Those people were nice enough to give their entire stash to me (close to a cup and a half)... which I shamelessly took and then finished in less than two days :-)
I tried to replicate that here. I think mine came close but the one I had earlier was better.... maybe one of these days I'll ask for a recipe :-) 

(makes 1/4 cup) 
(prep time 10 mins + 2 hours soaking)
Dried Byadagi chillies 10-12
Dried Guntur chillies 3-4 
Jaggery 1 1/2 Tbs 
Garlic 1/2 Tbs (minced)
Ghee 1 1/2 Tbs
  1.  Soak the dried chillies in 2 cups of water for a few hours. I soaked them for 2 1/2 hours.
  2. Once the chillies become soft..... take them out of the water and gently squeeze out the extra liquid. Chop them up halves.
  3. Now place them in a blender along with the jaggery and garlic.
  4. Heat some ghee in frying pan and transfer the mixture from the blender into the pan.
  5. Cook for 5-8 minutes. Done.


Chaas (Buttermilk lassi)

I had a pint of heavy cream and I churned it to make butter. The liquid that is left behind it called buttermilk. I had 1/4 cup of fresh butter and 3/4 cup of buttermilk. To make the lassi I blended the buttermilk with a few tablespoons of full fat yogurt, diluted it with 1 1/2 cups of cold water and seasoned it with some salt. I like it salt without anything else in it. For the sake of variation here I flavored one with dill leaves and other with pepper and left the first one plain.


Dharwad Peda (Dessert made from milk solids)

(time: over an hour)
(makes: 6 1 1/2" pedas)
Adapted from:

I made a small variation to the recipe above. Instead of ricotta cheese I opted for frozen Nanak khoya which I got from an Indian grocery store here. I simply grated the khoya and started to brown it in a non stick pan.

The khoya goes in crumbly and then turns into lumps like scrambled eggs. I had to break the lumps down with a potato masher several  times. Eventualy when it turned dark brown I added sugar and cardamom powder. Then I put the mixture into the blender and added 4 Tbs of heavy cream to get it into dough form.

After that I simply formed them into shape and rolled them in sugar. However easy the process is....  it took forever to get it to the right color and took constant stirring and smashing to avoid lumps and burns. See some picture that I have attached in different stages of browning.

I am not making this again...... unless I love you and you ask me very very very nicely :-)

I used 4-5 cardamom pods ground up to a powder
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of heavy cream
And one 12 oz brick of the frozen khoya.
Some extra sugar to roll the finished product in.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Black Forest Roll

Something I made recently.

I used a basic chocolate cake recipe. Some lightly sweetened stabilized whipped cream, maraschino cherries and chocolate shreds to cover the outside with.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Gur Wale Chawal - Rice Cooked in Brown Sugar

This post is seriously late!
The awesome picture you see below is what my dear sweet Mami made when I visited Lahore over a year ago. She is used to cooking for much larger crowds so it was very amusing to hear ingredients going into the pot by kilos :-)
I am sharing her recipe below... which I downsized to about a cup of rice.
It's really quite simple to put together.. the only set back is that I can't find good quality Gur (a type of brown sugar) anywhere here :-( 
Several months ago I made a batch.... quite honestly it lacked the wonderful gold color that you see in pictures and the rich flavor... primarily because I ended up using Jaggery that you can commonly find in Indian grocery stores here.
I am not entirely sure about this.... but I think that even though they all start as cane juice Gur, Jaggery and Shakar are three very different products. Try and find Gur from Pakistan - which usually looks like large lumps rather than cubes - when you make this. And then send some my way :-)
I loved watching this video that shows Gur making in Sargodha. Very relaxing music and the imagery makes me home sick! I am sometimes very ambitious when it comes to cooking stuff the authentic way..... maybe one of these days I'll get a few jugs of freshly squeezed cane juice from Chaat 'n Roll and make some Gur at home :-)


You can definitely add lots of dried fruit, nuts and coconut into this. I like it naked with a hint of cardamom.

1 cup Long grain basmati rice (no other rice will work)
2 1/2 cups Water for boiling

3/4 cups Shredded Gur
1/3 tsp Freshly ground cardamom
1/3 cup Ghee (or melted butter)
1/4 cup Persian green raisins (or dried Persian apricots) *optional
1/4 cup Mixed nuts (like pine nuts, pistachios or almonds) *optional
2-3 Tbs Dried unsweetened coconut slivers *optional
1/2 cup Water

Start by boiling 2 1/2 cups of water in a large pot.
Add 1 cup of rice to it and boil until the rice is cooked almost al dente. To check simply rub and smash an individual grain of rice between your thumb and forefinger. The outer surface of the rice should be soft and tender but the middle will feel like it has at least 2 hard dots.

While the rice is boiling... take a separate cooking pot and heat up 1/2 cup of water. Add shredded Gur into the pot.... cook on medium low heat and stir often to prevent burning. When all is melted and combined add cardamom powder and ghee to it. Have this syrup ready and warm.... you will add the drained rice immediately into this.

Drain the rice... shake off the extra water and then add it to the pot that contains the sugar butter syrup.
Mix gently.. turn the heat on low.
Cover the pot airtight with a lid that has been wrapped in a moist kitchen towel... no steam should escape.
Steam for 15 minutes or until the rice is completely tender.
Mix in the coconut, raisins and nuts.
Done :-)
Its best when eaten slightly warm with some un-sweetened un-whipped 40% fat heavy cream on top!

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Rustic Strawberry Cake


A smallish strawberry cake I made cuz I was bored and had nothing to do :-)


I pretty much followed this recipe here and cut the amounts in half except for the vanilla bean and lemon zest. And for the frosting and filling I used stabilized whipped cream with 1/4 cup sugar macerated strawberries.
This is not my recipe but I am posting the amounts I used for convenience... I highly recommend you visit the link above to read great stories and details.

1 cup All purpose flour
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/6 cup Buttermilk (I didn't have any so I used 2 Tbs of Greek yogurt diluted with water)
1 Large egg (Room temperature)
1/4 cup Oil (I used melted unsalted butter)
1/4 tsp Almond extract (I skipped this)
1/2 Vanilla bean (I used Rodelle vanilla beans and kept the original amount)
1 tsp Lemon zest
1/2 cup Fresh pureed strawberries

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

I used a 6" dia and 3" high Wilton springform pan to bake this. Prepare your pan by rubbing some oil or melted buter on the sides and then dust lightly with flour. Place a parchment cut to the size of your pan at the bottom.

Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt) in a bowl. Split and scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean. Rub the seeds into the sugar.

In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter and vanilla sugar for a few minutes. Add the egg and continue to whisk for another minute and then pour in the yogurt mixture.

Gently add the dry ingredients in 2 batches into the mixture and mix slowly. Fold in the pureed strawberries and zest.

Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake until done. Mine took close to 50 minutes to fully bake because the baking dish was quite deep. The baked cake had crispy sides and a dense texture as a result of longer baking. I have baked this cake before following the instructions exactly and in a larger pan.... that cake was moist and soft. I like both textures :-)

Cool on a wire rack. Use a knife to cut the cake in two. Use half the amount of the whipped strawberry cream as filling and the other half smeared on top.

Whipped Strawberry Cream

Macerated strawberries:
5-6 Medium sized strawberries diced into small pieces
1 Tbs Sugar

Stabilized whipped cream:
1 cup Heavy cream
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp Unflavored gelatin
1 Tbs Warm water
1 Tbs Room temperature heavy cream

In a small bowl combine the cut strawberries and a Tbs of sugar. Let this sit on the counter top for about 30-45 minutes until the mixture becomes watery. Remember to drain the water out before folding the macerated strawberries into the whipped cream.

Please read the info here to make stabilized whipped cream... you'll have to scroll down a bit :-)

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Malabar Paratha

I was in Pakistan for bari Eid last year and was quite surprised to learn that Maha (my super awesome, super cute and super talented cousin) solely (seriously!) survives on a diet consisting of chai, paratha and sometimes shoestring french fries with a sprinkling of chaat masala along with that oh so good chili garlic sauce!

Not that there is any lack of healthier, tastier alternatives, oh no.... she chooses to do this out of free will :-)

So I showed her how to make the best paratha imaginable!
The Malabar Paratha!

A great job she did :-) It was flawless, perfect.... and it was her first time making it :-)
Below is a picture of the one she made and then of her making it :-)


The amounts below will make two 5" parathas. This recipe can be easily be doubled or tripled... the ratio of flour and whole wheat I use is 3:1. You can change that ratio or use just whole wheat or just flour if you want.

Whole wheat 1/4 cup
All purpose flour 3/4 cup
Salt 3/4 tsp
Sugar 3/4 tsp
Room temperature water for kneading 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs (amount could vary)
Ghee 1/4 cup (you can also use melted butter or oil)

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl... mix well... and then add half the amount of water.
Begin kneading the dough and continue to add water as needed. After all the water has been added knead for about 4-5 minutes or until the dough is elastic and lump free. It should not be sticky.... add more flour if it is. Let this rest for about 30 minutes. Divide the dough in 2 parts and roll them in flour to make 2 balls.

Place a dough ball on a clean and lightly oiled surface. Flatten with your fingers or the back of your palm. Then use a rolling pin to roll it as thin as you possibly can in a rough shape. You can also grab the ends of the dough and stretch to make it even thinner. Paint the surface with some ghee. A lot of people do an accordion fold.... I think its quicker and results in more layers to roll up the flattened bread firmly like a jelly roll. Once its all rolled up and looks like a rope... make it even longer by pulling from the sides. Spread some more butter on it and coil it up, tuck the end in and make it into a ball again.

Once again on a floured surface flatten the ball and then roll out to about 5" diameter. Don't use too much pressure or you would lose the layers. Heat up a griddle.. drop about a teaspoon of ghee on it and cook the bread. It should take about 2 minutes on each side to cook fully on medium high. Add some more ghee when you flip sides.

While the cooked bread is still hot place it on a kitchen towel and crush the bread towards the center with your hands.. this will release the layers. Enjoy with your favorite curry!


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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Carrot Cake

I had a wonderful time making a carrot cake (as requested) for Amrita :-)

Mine, hers and her husband's birthdays are on consecutive days each a month apart and she being the head baker thought it would be a great tradition to bake each other cakes :-)

The six layers had a tangy lemon cream cheese frosting between them. The outside was covered in barely sweetened vanilla flavor whipped cream dots and decorated with dark chocolate curls on the top.
 Took me a while.. but I think I did good :-)

(serves: 10-12 ppl)
(assembly time: Took me several hours but I am a newbie)


3 cups hand shredded carrots (you could use already shredded carrots from a grocery store.. I find those to be stiff and dry)
2 1/2 cups All purpose flour
2 cups Cane sugar
2 tsp Baking powder
2 tsp Baking soda
3/4  Tbs Cinnamon powder (I used Saigon cinnamon from McCormick)
1/4 tsp Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp Sea salt
4 Large eggs (room temperature)
1 1/4 cup Canola oil (vegetable oil would work as well)
1 1/2 Tbs. Pure vanilla extract (I used vanilla extract from Spice Island)
1 cup Black California raisins *optional (Go for it... I just didn't have any)

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg) in a large bowl. Mix with a fork to make sure that all the ingredients are dispersed equally.

In a separate bowl whisk vanilla, oil and sugar for a few minutes and then start adding the eggs one at a time.

Now slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture in 3 or 4 batches and mix together slowly until the batter is well incorporated.

Fold in the carrots and raisins.

I wanted to make a multi layer tall cake. You could divide the batter into several bake pans. I didn't have that many pans nor the patience to bake 6 layers separately.

What I had was a 17" x 11" baking sheet so I used that. I divided the batter into two equals parts by weight.... poured one part into a prepared (sides oiled and dusted with flour. Bottom of the sheet pan lined with parchment paper) baking sheet and put it in the oven for 30 mins. The other part of the batter sat happily in the fridge until it was it's turn to bake. I just stirred it before baking it in a similar manner as above.

I cut the thin baked cake into three equal rectangles each approximately 5.5" x 10". So after two baking sessions I had 6 layers of cake... which was good enough for me :-)

Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz Cream cheese at room temp (I used 2 8oz Philadelphia cream cheese blocks)
8 oz unsalted butter at room temp (I used Lurpak butter)
2 cups Powdered sugar
2 Tbs Fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs Fresh lemon rind

Combined all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix using an electric whisk until the mixture looks well blended and creamy. This frosting is very soft at room temperature and therefore easier to use in between layers and to cover the cake. Placing it in the fridge hardens it significantly.

Stabilized Whipped Cream 

*Read last paragraph for vegetarians.

Stabilized whipped cream will hold its shape in desserts when piped on. This is excellent to use as a very light frosting on cakes.

1 cup heavy cream (I used cream from Golden Glen Creamery)
1 1/2 Tbs regular sugar
1 Tbs Pure vanilla (I used vanilla extract from Spice Island)

For stabilizing
1 rounded tsp Knox unflavored gelatin
2 Tbs warm water
3 Tbs room temp heavy cream

Pour some warm water in a small cup or bowl and mix in one rounded tsp of gelatin. Then microwave it for 20 secs and allow to set in the fridge this could take up to 15 mins.

After the gelatin in the fridge is set you can begin to whip the heavy cream. In a much larger bowl whisk together heavy cream, sugar and vanilla until medium peaks are formed.

Now you can add the gelatin to stabilize the whipped cream. To do so you will first have to microwave the set gelatin for 5 seconds until it's melted again and add some room temp cream to it. Add immediately to the whipped cream before the gelatin sets again. Continue to whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks are formed.

A fabulous YouTube video explains this process. I basically followed her method but made only a small batch of the gelatin. I haven't tried this but an alternative kosher would be to use piping gel as explained in this video. An interesting read for vegetarians on how to use agar agar powder for this.


Prepare the cake
Save at least a cup of cream cheese frosting to go outside the cake. The rest will be used as filling.

Place the first layer of cake on top of a cake base. I made mine by cutting out a 11" x 6" rectangle from foam core and covering it with aluminum foil. You can find foam core easily from a dollar store or an office supply or craft store.

Spread some cream cheese frosting on it and then place the next layer of cake on top of that. Kinda like making a multilayer sandwich. Repeat until your cake is built. The top most layer should be cake.

Now we need to do a crumb coat and try to make the edges straight with the frosting that you saved earlier. I used a butter knife to on the sides to fill in gaps and holes and then used a pastry scrapper to level the top, smooth out the edges and get somewhat sharp corners.

This doesn't have to perfect because it will get covered with whipped cream and chocolate curls. However if you are a perfectionist watch this demo.

Place the cake in the fridge for 30 mins so that the cream cheese frosting will harden.

Chocolate curls
3oz or more of your favorite dark chocolate bar melted (I used a Moonstruck 68% dark chocolate bar)

I spread a thin layer of melted chocolate on the back side of my baking sheet with a rubber spatula an offset spatula would be a better choice. Then I placed the sheet in the fridge for about 5 mins and used a pastry scrapper to make curls.

Here is an awesome video that demos the process. I love YouTube :-)

Whipped cream dots
I used a round Wilton tip #12 to make simple little polka dots around the cake.

You will need the following equipment to use the tip.
1- A coupler to hold the tip in place. Mine was from Wilton and the link explains how to use one.
2- Pastry or decorating bags. I got the 12 pack from Wilton.

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Friday, October 4, 2013

My Birthday Cake

My super hero girl friend (on the left) made this awesome cake for my birthday!
A delicate, light, moist, super duper delish strawberry short cake with macerated strawberries as filling and mascarpone cheese frosting!!!

It was just how I like it... perfect in every way!
Thanks Amrita :-)

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Ukadiche Modak

Happy festivities everyone :-)
I found out about this particular dessert from a friend who is from Maharashtra.
I have come to realize that Ganesha Chaturthi is quite dull without this delicacy..... and since I am crazy about all things dumplings..... and all things festivals.... I decided to roll up my sleeves and make a few!

I tried but can't pronounce the first part of the title :-)
It means "steamed" in Marathi I think.

When bad things happen to good modaks!

Steamed a bunch of them last night.... and even though I made very sure that the steamer was extremely well greased..... the modaks got horribly stuck to the container and we were left with yummy but bottom-less modaks.

I was able to avoid that in the second batch I made by lining the steamer with wax paper rubbed with butter. The modaks peeled off quite easily :-)

(makes 6 jumbo modaks or 10 mini modaks)
(prep time is about 15 mins)
(pleating and wrapping depends on skill level, it took me over 30 mins.)
(cook time 15 mins)

Since I had never made this or even knew about it...  I started by watching a bunch of recipes on youtube for inspiration and learning. They were all pretty much similar. I liked Nisha Madhulika's version. I highly recommend watching her video for more info.
Credit for the following recipe goes to her :-)
Very Imp:
Saran wrap and vinyl gloves will be your best friends!
And line the bottom of your steamer with some well greased wax paper otherwise the modaks might stick to the container.
3/4 cup fine rice flour
3/4 cup water
A few drops of oil or melted butter
A nice big pinch of salt

Gurh or Jaggery (a type of brown sugar that can be easily found in Indian grocery stores)
Dried shredded coconut - unsweetened
Cardamom 3 pods
A good pinch of fennel seeds
Blue poppy seeds
You will also need 1 Tbs of butter which you will add towards the end

I pretty much eye-balled the amounts.
Here is a visual of how much I used for the filling.

The filling is basically dried nuts, spices, and coconut mixed in with melted sugar and some butter.
Fairly simple to do.
Add the lump sugar in a non-stick pot. I cut mine in quarters first, however this step is not necessary unless you have really old hardened up sugar.
Turn the heat up to medium low and slowly start to melt the sugar.
The almonds need to be in small pieces. I achieved this by placing the almonds in a Ziploc bag and gently smashed each kernel with a hammer. Then I used my knife to chop them further.
Grind the spices into a powder.
Once the sugar is soft and beginning to melt add coconut and poppy seed and mix well.
After a few more minutes combine almonds, spices, butter - mix well - and then turn off the heat.
Take this out in a bowl and keep aside for later use.
Use a non-stick pan.
Add salt, a few drops of oil to some water and bring to a boil.
Turn the heat off and add the rice flour to the hot water.
Mix well with a stiff spatula.
Cover and let this sit for 5 minutes.
Take the dough out on an oiled surface and knead while still hot with your hands or a flat spatula until dough is soft, smooth, shiny and very moldable.
The dough is very fun to work with as long as you are wearing gloves!
Beware... the scary, detestable yet strangely appealing.... carb monster... called "C"!!
I really thought I could free hand it.
I was humbled.
I figured two ways worked best for me.
Take a small a amount of dough and roll it out between two sheets of saran or plastic wrap to desired thickness. Place some stuffing in the center and then gather the sides of the dough up to form the shape. The mini modaks in the picture above were made this way.
This I would say is my preferred method because it was easier for me to form the pleats on the sides.
I had some small dip bowls - a gift from an old friend.
I wrapped saran around it, then I placed a small piece of dough and molded it to the shape of the bowl and extended it beyond the rim... took it out in my hand.... filled it up... pinched the sides of the dough and closed it up. See pictures below.

Lets cook this
Steam this covered for about 15 minutes.
Allow it to cool down to room temperature before eating.
Super psyched about the Pankaj Udhas concert tonight!!!
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