Tuesday, August 19, 2014

DATE AND FIG BISCOTTI


All bakeries in Delhi have stocks of Cake Rusk.  It is something that my family, especially R has been in love with. I remember picking up half a kg of fresh cake rusk every week and it vanishing even before the week ended.  Some would have tutti-fruiti in it, but we always liked the plain ones, coz the fruit in the cake rusk was always very hard, spoiling the texture.

I too am very fond of this particular preparation, but I never realized it would be so easy to do it at home.  Till I actually did it myself.  This recipe is my second attempt at the cake rusk or biscotti in the international language.  The first one I did was Almond and Orange which required some improvement.  And the second one came out perfectly.  After this I think I will be making more biscotti than cookies or muffins or cakes.  They are soooo good, and healthy too.

This is my own recipe.  After I got the hang of the whole concept of getting the texture right, I made my own stuff.  


Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cooking Time - 20-30 minutes (Logs)
Cooling time - 30 minutes
Cooking Time - 8-10 minutes (Biscotti)
Cooling Time - 20 minutes
Makes about - 2 dozen biscotti of medium size





Ingredients
 2 cups atta
1 tspn baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup dates n figs chopped
1/4 cup cinnamon honey (I don't think it's available in India so use honey mixed with 1/2 spoon of cinnamon or put the powder in the flour)
5 tbspn salted butter
2 tbspn rum (optional)


Method
Preheat oven to 150 deg
In a dish mix the flours n baking powder
Add the dates n figs n give it a good mix
Separately beat the butter n eggs
Add the sugar n mix
Pour in the rum
Now mix the wet into the dry
Add the honey
Combine into a dough
Don't knead too much
Pat into 2 logs by dividing them into two balls
Try and keep the logs rectangular
Lay them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
Now bake for 30 minutes
Remove from oven n cool for 30 minutes
Meanwhile before 30 minutes are over start preheating once again
Once the logs are fairly cool use a serrated knife to slice them into 1/2 inch slices and lay them cut side down on the baking sheet with the baking paper and bake again for about 8-10 minutes. Just until they start browning.
Take the sheet out and leave to cool.

Believe me you will love the crumbs as much as the biscotti itself.

Friday, July 25, 2014

MANGO PICKLE

Stealing mango pickle bottles from granny's kitchen, two little girls run to the terrace to spend an afternoon of finger licking goodness.

Can never ever forget those days when vacations at my ammuma's (grand mothers) home meant loads of divine food.  Food though did not look so divine then, evoke memories and longingness today. 

I remember manga achaar used to be my favourite-est food in kerala, after chemeen olatiadu (prawn  dry fry).  I could just finish a whole bottle on my own, and then take money from my granny and run to the nearby tattukadda (roadside shop) to buy the small sachets of achaar (pickle) which were a killer deal for 50 paise !!!

The little girls above were me and and cousin. .  .  Amongst our other loot were puli (tamarind rolled in salt, which my granny used to keep in a earthern vessel), boiled prawns, raw mangoes immersed in salt and red chilli powder, gooseberries in brine, ellu unda (sesame seed balls).  Anything and everything we could lay our hands on. Nothing can return those days back but those memories are ever sooo sweet, or should I say sour??

Years later, I have improvised on the mango pickle to recreate a recipe that I now love.  I have variations to it.  But this is one of the most loved and which I am sharing with you now.




Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cooking Time - 10 minutes
Cooling Time - 2 hours

Makes about 250 grms

Ingredients
250 grms - raw mango (peeled and cut into small cubes)
1 tspn - mustard seeds
2 twigs - curry leaves
salt as per taste
1/4 tspn - hing / asofetida
2 tbspn - grated ginger
1/4 tspn - citric acid
1 tbpn - vineger
1 tbspn - sugar or jaggery
4 tbspn  - red chilli powder
1 tbspn - turmeric powder

Roasted and ground to a powder
1 tspn - methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)
2 tbspn - saunf (fennel seeds)
8-10 red chillies
1 tbspn - rai (small mustard seeds) (dont roast the mustard seeds)

Method

In a wok add about 2 tbsn oil (preferably gingelly or coconut oil). When its hot add the mustard seeds and wait to sputter
Add the mangoes, curry leaves, turmeric and salt
On a high heat stir and let the waters release and dry up.  This will take about 5 minutes
Now add the masala powder and everything else except the citric acid and vineger
Cook on low till you see the oil seperating
Add the citric acid and vineger and mix well
Taste and see if the salt is adequate
At this stage adjust the salt, sweet, chilli as per your liking.

I sometimes want to make it a little more sweeter so I add a tbspn more of jaggery or sugar, though I prefer jaggery.

This jar is empty within less than a week, and I am still ready for more.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

LEMON SHORTBREAD COOKIES

Today was my birthday.  Another year went past.  Another year with good and bad moments.  Last year I was celebrating in another country surrounded with friends.  This year, it was just my family.  New country, little known people, but a heart ready to explore the newness of the place.

Birthday's are always special.  But as the years pass by, they loose their charm and other matters in life and yet more, other people in your life take priorities.  But still there's something about the day that makes it very unique.  A certain zing in the air, continuous phone calls and messages from friends world over.  It is enough to celebrate the fact that your are alive and there are people who care and lovey.  The very fact that you are alive and kicking is enough to thank the almighty, and thank I do for all that I am.

I am celebrating this day which is very special, and more so, coz its my husband's birthday too with these eye winking cookies.  "Eye winking" coz you'll certainly wink when you take a bit.




LEMON SHORTBREAD COOKIES

Prep Time - 25 minutes
Cooking time - 20 minutes
Cooling Time - 15 minutes
Makes about 30-36 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup atta / wheatflour
1 cup maida / refined flour
1/2 cup butter at room temperature (salted)
6 tbspn sugar
2 lemon - zest
1 lemon juice

Method

Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy
Add the lime zest and lemon juice and mix well
Slowly add in the flour and mix well
Knead into a smooth dough using milk at room temperature
Leave aside for 15 minutes
Take small balls and press into small cookies
Sprinkle with some more sugar on top
Lay them on a baking sheet lined with butter paper
Preheat the oven to 180deg and bake these for about 20 minutes

Allow to cool

Serve these with a wink and you'll love them.  Every time you open the box of cookies you are surrounded with a totally butterly and tangy smell that keeps lingering.  This a keeper of a recipe.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

COCONUT RICE

For me Food means memories, and I am sure a lot of my blogger friends will certainly agree with this fact.  A certain aroma may transfer you to a different era altogether, maybe of your childhood or somewhere else.

The recipe I am sharing today takes me to a friend at whose house I have had this delicious rice dish.  Coconut Rice - the first time I had it I was awed at the freshnes of the dish and I still love it a lot.  Though the friend is long lost, her memories will always remain with me.




Prep Time - 15 minutes
Cooking Time - 5 minutes
Serves - 2 as a main dish

Ingredients 

1 cup boiled basmati or any other rice variety
1 cup fresh shredded coconut
1 tsp urad daal (optional)
1 tsp channa daal (optional)
1 tspn mustard seeds
1/2 inch pc of ginger
2 twigs curry leaves
a handful of peanuts and cashewnuts mixed (optional)

Method

In a wok add a tspn of oil and let it heat
Fry the nuts till crunchy and remove from oil and keep aside
Add the mustard seeds, urad daal, channa daal let them sputter and brown but dont burn please
Add the ginger grated and curry leaves and let it fry
Now add the coconut and the rice and mix well
Add enough salt to your taste.
Mix the nuts

Serve with any kind of pickle or this is good to go on its own

Tips
Makes a great tiffin dish
If you have the fresh coconut  in your freezer most of times you can just boil the rice ahead of time and cook this up in 5 minutes
For a change add some turmeric powder


 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

EGG CURRY WITH COCONUT POWDER

Hyeee.  Its been a loong time since I blogged, and I honestly missed it lot.  Reasons for my absence were guests at home, and most importantly my laptop was giving me trouble and I just couldnt blog as much as I wished I could.  However, alls well that ends well, and I am back and going to post big time, coz I have a lot on my drafts folder.

Life has been good.  God has been kind.  I am finally beginning to settle down after moving into Tanzania 6 months ago, and thankfully the weather is better.  I think the weather is one of the main reasons for me to feel good about the place.  It was terribly hot when I had moved in.  When I compared it to the lovely ever between 18-22 deg of Nairobi the 26-30 deg of Dar felt terrible.  I had in just about 2 years forgotten the almost 48 deg of Delhi!!!

Life is strange, or are we strange??!!! We get adapted to our surroundings, especially what comfort us so soon, that we become complacent.  We want to forget whats not in sight and just enjoy whats good.  Homes in Delhi were smaller, homes in places where we've lived lately are much much more bigger.  I always wonder if I will be able to get back into the smaller house once we move back to Delhi??  I have forgotten how unclean the roads in Delhi and how much garbage is accumulated on roadsides.  When I go for my yearly visits, I find that soooo strange that people keep the surroundings where they live so unclean. 

I am not pinpointing the good and bad of countries, but I am just wondering how human nature adjusts to the good and bad of life.  How we ourselves set our own standards.....

Lets now get onto our recipe.

I looooove eggs. Especially love eggs in the form of curry and I do make it in a few different ways.

Today I am sharing with you a simple one, which is a keeper and will surely satisfy your tastebuds

Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cooking Time  - 15 minutes

Serves - 2 adults




Ingredients
4 hard boiled eggs
1 big onion - chopped
1 big tomato - pureed
3 flakes - garlic (grated)
1/2 inch pc - ginger (grated)
2 tbspn - coconut powder  or 1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tspn - turmeric powder
1 tspn - paprika
1 tspn - red chilli powder (optional)
2 tbspn - dhania or corriader powder
1 tspn - garam masala
2 twigs - curry leaves
a handful of dhania / corriander leaves

Method
In a wok add about a tbspn of oil and once hot put in the chopped onions. 
Once they turn pinkish brown add the ginger and garlic and fry
Add in the turmeric powder and fry well
Add in the corriander powder and fry well
Now put in the tomato puree and cook till the oil seperates
Add the paprika and chilli powder and fry well
Add the coconut powder or milk and fry for about 1/2 a minute along with the curry leaves
Now put in about 1/2 cup water or more if you want a thinner gravy
Make gentle slits on the boiled eggs and drop them into the gravy
Cook till you achieve the desired consistency
Garnish with green chillies and corriander leaves

The coconut powder adds instant richness to the curry.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

BAND GOBHI KE PAKODE - CABBAGE FRITTERS

In my whole life I have never seen cabbages as big as I have seen in Africa.  I mean really huge ones. Some of them are big enough to make 4 different curries for a family of 4!!!   And my experience of the eating habits of people here has revealed that they really love cabbage. My househelps favourite food is Ugali and Cabbage.  They can eat cabbage three times a day, seven days a week!! Thats how much they love cabbage. I think another reason is that it is available so abundantly and cheaply.  In India we had avoided cabbage because of rumors of cabbage spreading some infections to the brain.  I had to sadly quit the lovely vegetable.  But after coming here, it became a permanent in my grocery shopping and am happy to include it. I feel its quite versatile with a number of dishes that we can cook, and also low cal and full of health benefits.

I am sharing with you here a very simple snack made with cabbage.  It has a very unique taste and texture, and I really love these.





Prep time - 5 minutes
Cooking time - 20 minutes
Serves - 4-6 people

Ingredients

250 grms - finely shredded cabbage
100 grms - gramflour / besan
a pinch - hing / asofetida
1/4 tsp - turmeric / haldi powder
2 - green chillies (finely chopped)
a bunch - corriander leaves (washed and finely chopped)
1/4 tspn - ajwain / carrom seeds
1 tspn - amchur powder
1/4 tspn - saunf / fennel seeds 
salt as per taste

Method

In a big bowl Mix in all the ingredients and add just enough water to make a thick batter of dropping consistency.
Heat oil and drop these one by one not crowding the wok too much.
Let them turn a deep gold brown on a medium flame
Serve with chutney or ketchup or are good on their own.

I love them with chappatis and some daal

Monday, March 17, 2014

COCONUT CHERRY COOKIES

We had just  begun to settle down when its suddenly time to move on.  A sudden transfer for my husband called for us to pack our bags and move to a beach city.  Dar es salaam is  so different from Nairobi.  Nairobi is a beautiful town full of natures bounty, things that I love - huge big trees all around and lovely beautiful flowers in all, I really mean ALL colours and variations you can imagine.  I miss Nairobi real bad, but am trying to settle down.  Looking for whatever is best in this new city.

But I guess thats what life is all about.  When you think you've reached your destination, God wants you to see some more.  I was not ready to move but had to.  Leave friends back and look for new ones.  New purchases, a new house. I look forward to new beginnings.  Even though Dar es salaam is not as developed as Nairobi, with malls and shopping centers are cropping up everywhere.  I still want to experience the same thrill which I felt when in Delhi and new malls meant more choices in shopping about 15 years ago.

As we move on, am sharing this simple but delicious cookie recipe






Ingredients :-

2 cups - maida
1/2 tspn - baking powder
a big pinch - baking soda
a small pinch - salt
3/4 cup - vegetable oil
1 - egg
1 cup - sugar
1 tbspn - vanilla essence or cherry essence 
1/2 cup - dessicated coconut
some glazed cherries - halved (as per requirement)

Recipe :-

Preheat the oven to 180 deg cel
Mix the dry ingredients except the coconut well
Now in a separate bowl take the oil and beat in the egg till light and fluffy
Now add the sugar and beat well
Add the essence and beat well
Mix this liquid into the dry ingredients
With your hands mix everything together. 
If the dough is too dry or not coming together add in some milk (at room temp)
Grease a cookie sheet and make some balls of the dough and flatten them on the dessicated coconut
Top each cookie with a halved cherry
Bake for 10-12 minutes
Dont let it brown

You will get about 30-32 cookies