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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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