Friday, 15 November 2013

Nutella Cake... Second Innings!

So, I just decided today, that I will hunt my way through my picture files and find something to post as a jump start to blogging again. This cake was made about three months back and it never made its way here, due to sheer lack of time on my part. No one at home are sweet eaters including my son. He devours chocolates in huge quantities that I always need to keep a dentist number handy. Anything other than chocolate gets a 'no' from him. According to him, I am the lousiest cook on earth due to my inability to make good quality chocolates at home. Not that chocolate making is a task. Just that fitting that into my schedule is a task!


If the chocolate-only lover at home has to eat a cake, it has to be a chocolate cake which his father loathes. Next best alternative is Nutella Cake! I never bother with icing or frosting, no one at home is interested either.


I searched high and low for a good nutella cake recipe, and finally chose this one. It is a pretty straight forward recipe and my version here is more of a cut and paste of it. So essentially, this is Divya's recipe, Divya's cake, that I made according to the instructions on her blog. And it tasted divine!

RECIPE
Salted Butter at room temperature - 150 grams
Castor Sugar - 3/4 cup (I always go with a bit less sweet-ness)
Eggs - 3
Vanilla Extract - 1 teaspoon
Plain Flour - 1 and 1/2 cups
Baking Powder - 1 teaspoon
Milk - 1/2 cup
Nutella - 3 tablespoons


 METHOD
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.
Grease and dust a 6 cup bundt pan.
Sieve the plain flour and baking powder together and keep aside.
Beat the butter and the sugar well till well combined.
Add the eggs and beat well.
Add the vanilla extract and combine.
Finally add the flour and fold it in until you get a smooth batter.
Pour half the batter into the prepared tin.
Add 1 and 1/2 spoons of nutella into into the batter and swirl through with a knife.
Pour the rest of the batter on top of this, and add the remaining nutella on top and swirl through with a knife again.
Bake for 50 minutes till the cake is fully cooked and a toothpick inserted will come out clean.
Cool the cake and invert onto a wire rack.


Done with the recipe! Simple!
Enjoy with tea...!


Lots of love and happiness!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Because life is not a fairytale...

I have not posted anything since a long time. As I sit down today, thinking of posting, I fail to find a recipe. I fail to find a picture to post. It has been long that I clicked food. It has been long that I baked. It has been long that I browsed food books, thinking of what new food I should cook for my family. Where did I stop being the person I used to be at one point in time?

Did I build sandcastles in the air? With rainbows and unicorns? How did I not realise at 38 years of age that sandcastles can crumble? There is this famous Yiddish proverb that I keep posting here and there and everywhere I find an opportunity...'Man plans, God laughs!' For a while, I thought my life was the best life in all imaginable ways. But we all get to learn lessons... and I learnt mine a bit late. Time to start over again. Realising that I make and break my happiness. It is my choice.


So, leaving yesterday to mourn over itself and hoping for a tomorrow that will bring bigger smiles to my face... I am smiling today, just because God decided to keep me alive today for whatever reason, He knows best.

Lots of love and happiness!
Sangeeta.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Pepper Mutton Masala!

I honestly don't know why I hardly update this blog of mine! I have a facebook page that I keep posting in, those are mostly quick posts, with one picture and the recipe given, and a huge time-saver. I have resolved innumerable times that I will not procrastinate... I will be regular... but things just never work as planned in my life, specially when this food blog is concerned. So I'm doing a quick post, about a dish which is not frequent here. I have posted innumerable chicken recipes, I have plenty more up my sleeve! Now a days, with chicken I hardly need to read or follow any written recipe. The permutations and combinations that I have tried, have been many... that I just need to lay my hands on it, that something comes up naturally. The natural process of coming up with a recipe is directly proportionate to the time I have on hand too:) Works well, all said and done, I try to keep mealtimes at home, with whatever little I can provide the family with.

Now the stuff that I hardly make, and what you have little or never seen in this space of mine, is mutton. And mutton is mutton, not lamb.



The recipe has been adapted from here. I have made my own changes to get the strength of the flavours I love.
INGREDIENTS:
Mutton – 500 grams, boneless, cut into small pieces
Whole black pepper – 2 or 3 teaspoons (I like the strong peppery flavour, so I go up to 4 teaspoons and you can reduce the green chillies if you like it less hot)
Green chillies – 2
Ginger- 1 inch piece
Garlic - 3-4 flakes
Coriander leaves - 1 small bunch, chopped
Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons
Onion – 2 big, sliced finely
Coriander powder – 2½ teaspoons
Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
Garam masala – ½ teaspoon
Tomato – 2 big, sliced
Water – 1 1/2 cups
Curry leaves
Salt
Oil or Clarified Butter





METHOD:
Grind together whole black pepper, green chillies, ginger, garlic and coriander leaves with a little water to a fine paste. Add this ground masala, lemon juice and salt to cleaned mutton pieces. Marinate it for one hour.


Heat oil or clarified butter in the pressure cooker. Add sliced onions and cook till it becomes golden brown. Add all the powders. Mix well. Add a little water to mix everything well. 

Add tomato, salt (salt is already added to mutton) and curry leaves. Mix well. After 3-4 mins, add marinated mutton pieces. Mix well. Add 1 cup water, let it boil. Pressure cook till the mutton is done.

If there is any gravy, continue cooking, so that the water dries up and mutton is covered with masala. Check salt. Garnish with freshly ground pepper and onion rings.

Serve it with anything or just have it and lick your fingers:)))



The best way to have this is with plain steamed rice. You can also make this in a dry form by evaporating all the water and stir frying the meat pieces by adding a few more drops of oil. But I prefer having this is in a semi dry form as this way, it mixes well with rice and it is easier to lick your fingers...:)


Sending this Pepper Mutton Masala of mine to the  Ramzan and Mango Event, Foodabulous Fest Event organised by Simply Tadka, hosted by Sajina Bashir of Saju's Taste.



                                                 
Lots of love and happiness:)

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Canned Pineapple Pachadi... From God's Own Country!

I need an easy way out with all recipes. Or I would not even venture trying them. If I can do away with the hour-long cutting and chopping required for one, I am the happiest person on earth! Not that I support packaged or frozen stuff. I do a fair share of cooking fresh vegetables, meat and fish, but when it comes to preparing a big feast and what I mean here is the typical Kerala feast, I want to take some easy ways out, somewhere.
Pachadi is a typical  Kerala dish that features in all grand feasts. It can be made with any vegetable, but the one made with Pineapples, stand apart. The sweetness, the sourness and the spicy-ness, all in balance.



This is an easy version to making Pineapple Pachadi using canned, cubed pineapples and doing away with the cutting and chopping of fresh ones. An easy way out for the modern woman!

INGREDIENTS:
Canned Pineapple (Cubed) – 1 tin of drained weight 300 grams
Turmeric powder – ¾ teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder – ½ teaspoon
Grated Jaggery – ½ tablespoon
Beaten Plain Yoghurt – ½ to ¾ cup (according to the sour-ness of the yoghurt, if it is less sour: add ¾ cup)
Grated Coconut – ½ cup
Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
Green Chillies – 2

FOR THE TEMPERING:
Mustard Seeds – ½ teaspoon
Whole Dried Red Chillies – 3- 4
Curry Leaves – I sprig, separated
Oil – 1 tablespoon


METHOD:
Drain the pineapple pieces from the syrup and cut them further into thin pieces, roughly. Put them into a pan along with turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt and 1 cup of water. Put them on medium flame and cook, covered, till the pineapple is almost done. Halfway through the cooking, add jaggery to it. Cook till the water is totally evaporated. With a potato masher, mash the pineapple pieces slightly, keeping some of them whole.  Keep aside.

Grind the grated coconut, mustard seeds and the green chillies into a very fine paste. Add this to the cooked pineapple and mix well. Add yoghurt to it and mix well. Check salt.

For the tempering, heat oil in a pan. Crackle the mustard seeds and add dried red chillies and curry leaves and immediately pour in to the pineapple mix. Stir and mix well. Serve with rice.


I am proud of the land I come from. Kerala. It is God's Own Country. I left the place 12 years back and each time I go back it is almost as if I have always been there. We celebrate our New Year on Sunday, the 14th of April. I wish all my readers a very Happy Vishu!

Lots of love and happiness:)



Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Grilled Fenugreek Prawns... And Focusing Broad:)

We look at things in our own specific ways. In fact we look at things the way we want them to be seen to us.   We focus on Mondays... and lose sight of the Thursdays and Fridays. Why? I know I must think of the bigger picture. Today or tomorrow and their problems don't matter. I know in the longer run, I may not even remember those problems! But still they matter, today. And I fret. I frown. And forget that I have a whole life ahead, not just today. The more I frown, the more I cook. The more I cook, the more cups of green tea, I consume. And the end result of my cooking, invariably brings a smile to my face. That is the therapeutic nature of working in the kitchen to create something. Flour, egg and sugar turning into the loveliest cakes, a smelly fish turning into a delectable curry, so on and so forth. Honestly, is there anything better creative than cooking!

This is what I made today, that brought the broadest smiles, not just on me, but on all who sat for dinner at the table :-) It was a surprise twist to the prawns, the flavours of fenugreek, curry leaves, coriander and mint oozing through.

INGREDIENTS: (Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe)
Powdered Dry Fenugreek Leaves - 2 tablespoons
Medium Prawns - 20
Ginger-Garlic Paste - 2 tablespoons
Lemon Juice - 2 tablespoons
Salt to taste
Curry Leaves - 10
Fresh Coriander Leaves - 1 cup
Fresh Mint Leaves - 1/4 cup
Green Chillies - 3
Thick Yoghurt - 1 cup
Fresh Cream - 3 tablespoons
Chilli Powder - 2 teaspoons
Carom Seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Garam Masala Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Cornflour - 2 tablespoons
Oil - 3 tablespoons
Melted Butter for Basting.



METHOD:
Peel and devein the prawns. Mix together one tablespoon powdered dry fenugreek leaves, one tablepoon ginger-garlic paste, lemon juice and salt along with the cleaned prawns and set aside for half an hour.

Grind together curry leaves, fresh coriander, mint leaves and green chillies to a fine paste. Transfer into a bowl. Add the yoghurt, remaining ginger-garlic paste, salt, fresh cream, chilli powder, carom seeds, garam masala powder, cornflour, oil and the remaining powdered dry fenugreek leaves.

Squeeze out the excess moisture from the marinated prawns and add to the yoghurt mixture and mix well. Set aside for an hour, preferably in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Thread the prawns onto skewer, leaving a little distance from each one. Drizzle the remaining marinade over them.

Cook in the preheated oven for 3 to 5 minutes, basting with butter once, while cooking.

Serve hot with red onions and lemon wedges.


The flavours are refreshing and different on the prawns. And needless to say, this is a must try for seafood lovers! Serve it as a starter, or part of the main course, whatever, it brings out lovely expressions on the faces of the ones who eat them. I had underestimated the recipe when I read it first. Please don't underestimate like I did. The reality is satisfying! Totally:-)


That is why I said in the beginning. Focus on the bigger picture. Not the nearer ones. Do not just read and flip away after you read this recipe. Go broader and cook it! Rewarding smiles!!!

Lots of love and happiness:)

Sweet Mango Sambhar... The Perfect 'Vishu' Accompaniment!


I have a genuine explanation for everything. Not that anyone would care whether I posted here often or not, but I feel bad because I constantly seem to throw my blogging schedule into the bin. I am caught up with a lot in my life! I just do not seem to realise when the day starts and ends. And one busy day infiltrates into the next and the next... and finally the whole week is gone! Still I say, this is no excuse for not keeping this blog running, so here I am.

This is a lovely variation to the normal sambhar. The ripened mangoes that it is made with, gives a sweet and tangy flavour to it, along with the sambhar masala. It is a must-try during the mango season!


INGREDIENTS

Tuvar Dal (Yellow Lentils) – ½ cup
Ripened Mangoes (I used kesari mangoes that are available now. You can use any variety small ripe mangoes) – 2
Tamarind – 1 lime sized ball (soaked in water and strained to get the extract)
Turmeric Powder – ¼ teaspoon
Salt.

For the Tempering:

Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
Fenugreek seeds – ¼ teaspoon
Curry leaves – 2 springs
Whole Dried Red Chillies – 3 to 4
Sambhar Powder – 2 teaspoons (You can use either store-bought or home-made. I used ‘Brahmins’ sambhar powder).
Oil – 3 tablespoons



METHOD:

Wash the lentils well and put it, along with the turmeric powder, into a pressure cooker, with enough water to get it cooked.
Cook the lentils till it is well done and totally mashed. If they are not mashed well, use a hand-held mixer or a regular mixer grinder to grind and mash it well.
Meanwhile cut each mango into 3 pieces and put them in a pan with 1 cup water. Cover the pan with a lid and cook the mangoes for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring in between, till they turn soft.
Transfer the mangoes to the lentils and add salt. Mix well. Simmer it for 7 minutes.
Add the tamarind extract in to it. Mix. Simmer till the mixture boils well.
Adjust the water in the gravy according to the thickness you need (I like the sambhar moderately thick) and check salt. Switch off the flame and keep aside.
Take a small pan for the tempering, add a little oil and crackle the mustard seeds. Once they are crackled, add the fenugreek seeds, dried red chillies and curry leaves. Wait for 30 seconds, stirring continuously. Switch off the flame. Add the sambhar powder into the tempering, mix and immediately pour it into the lentil/mango mixture. Stir well.
Serve hot with rice.


Notes: The sweetness of the mangoes, along with the tangy-ness of the tamarind coupled with the flavour of the sambhar masala makes this a lovely variant of the regular sambhar.

If the mangoes you use are not sweet enough, you can add 2 tablespoons of crushed jaggery to the mangoes when you cook them.

I wish everyone a happy Vishu!

Lots of love and happiness:)





Monday, 25 February 2013

Kerala Red Fish Curry... Basic Indulgence:)

The most random blogger ever, writing yet another blog post:)

This is comfort food to me, okay? We, who have grown up in the coastal regions of Kerala are big fish eaters. And the comfort food consists of rice, not ordinary rice... the pink coloured Kerala rice which is totally earthy flavoured and full of fibre, fish curry and a vegetable. The Kerala cuisine is renowned for it's seafood delicacies and if you visit a Christian home in Kerala, there is always a pot of fish curry simmering away giving out the delicious aroma that wafts through the rooms. Each home has a different connotation to it's fish curry recipe. It is made in several ways in Kerala: with coconut milk, without coconut milk, with raw mango for the tangy-ness, with tamarind... But even the nuances vary in each household!


And here is the fish curry with 'gambooge' : popularly known as 'Malabar Tamarind' or 'Kudampuli' (malayalam), in it. It is called the Red Fish Curry mostly due to the dark red colour, I guess. This curry does not need refrigeration, it just needs to be reheated twice a day, till it is over. It stays good for 2 days and I have not had the pleasure of feasting on it for a third day!


RECIPE FOR RED FISH CURRY!
Ingredients:
Fish (I used King fish) - 1/2 kg, cut into pieces
Shallots - 10, chopped fine
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Garlic - 4 flakes
Red Chilly Powder - 2 tablespoons (Use Kashmiri chilly powder if you just need the colour. I used the normal one because I love the heat of it too!)
Coriander Powder - 2 tablepoons
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Gambooge (Kudampuli) - 2/3 pieces
Mustard Seeds - 1 teaspoon
Fenugreek Seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Curry Leaves
Salt
Coconut Oil


Method:
Soak the gambooge (kudampuli) in 1/4 cup of water for 15 minutes.
Crush the ginger and garlic into a smooth paste.
Mix all the powders together with a little water to make it into a smooth paste and keep aside.
Heat a clay pot or a pan with coconut oil.
Splutter the mustard seeds. Add the fenugreek seeds. After 30 seconds, add the ginger-garlic and stir fry till they turn golden brown.
Add the shallots and curry leaves and fry till the shallots turn golden brown.
Add the masala paste and salt and stir fry for 2 minutes.
Add the gambooge (kudampuli) along with the water in which it has been soaked. Let it come to a boil.
Add the fish pieces and the required amount of water to cook the fish.
Do not stir any more, rotate the pan to mix the fish and the masala well.
Check in between, the fish gets done quickly. Simmer till the gravy thickens on a low flame.
Serve with rice or tapioca.


After the curry is made, if the tangy-ness is enough, you can remove the gambooge from the curry and discard them. Leaving them in can make it more tangy.
This curry tastes best the next day that it is made.
With red rice and a vegetable.
And that thought itself makes me go hungry at this late hour that I'm typing out this post:)

Lots of love and happiness:)