My friend’s beautiful daughter turned 6 years old over the weekend. I asked my friend if I could bake a small cake for her. Initially I thought of baking just a simple cake. Then last week, I thought I would decorate it into a Princess. I had seen that she enjoys Frozen movie. Then I found some Princess cakes onlines, with blue dress which looked so beautiful. So I decided to go with blue dress. The blue Princess cake, I think it came out very well. Someone asked me which princess it was based on, since it had the bindi, I really did not base it on any princess characters, it was just that I really wanted to make it a light blue cake. I added the bright yellow flowers for the extra pop of colors.
The cake was Simple egg cake. The frosting was creamcheese-buttercream frosting. The doll is plastic. It was a 4 inch doll. Since the doll was kind of small, I thought of keeping it on a oval shaped cake. It gave the much needed height to the cake. Before frosting the cake, I cut each piece horizontally and applied a thick layer of frosting in between to give extra taste to the cake. I have seen many Princess cakes where a dressed doll is used as the insert. That may be something I will keep in mind for future. For now, I really enjoyed making the whole dress.
It was around 3 years back, we had arranged a baby shower for a friend. I decided to make ragda pattis and when I started to cook, I realized it would take me forever to pan fry all those pattis. So I baked them. Everyone enjoyed it and they did not know it was baked at all.
When Ishaan was born, many of my blogger friends also had their first kids. So one mommy blogger created a FB group and we all joined. When all the babies grew up and became toddlers, we started discussing about food. My friend Sia from Monsoon Spice shared a veggie finger recipe. I loved the idea of adding vegetables. Ever since then, instead of ragda pattis, this baked vegetable patties served like a chaat has become a regular at my home. The bread crumbs crisp up when baked, so it tastes amazing served just out of oven. I keep everything ready and bake it just before my guests arrive. I have made this many times for get togethers and it is always a hit.
Take all ingredients (except bread crumb) and mix well.
Make balls and roll in bread crumbs. Top with a little oil and bake. Take all chutney ingredients and grind. Mix chaat masala and salt with onion.
My brother and his family hired a cook two years back, after they had a baby. Since my brother is a great cook himself (and a hard critic), when he says something I feel like I should taste it immediately. Few months back he said he likes the chicken dishes prepared by his cook. Then when my parents were visiting them, they noted down the recipe of few of the dishes. This chicken curry with onion-tomato paste is one of them. It is very simple to make and tastes delicious. By the way, I have run out of ideas for recipe names!.
Make a paste of onions, green chilli and tomatoes.
Heat oil and add whole spice.
Add onions, ginger garlic paste and cook. Add marinated chicken.
Add spices and beaten yogurt.
Add chili powder, paste.
I recollect a colleague of mine from Northern part of India telling that in their menu, he had never seen drumstick. When he along with his friends hired a cook, he prepared a drumstick curry with rotis. These bunch of friends apparently told cook, if at all you prepare anything with this vegetable, we are going to find replacement for you. I pity – not the cook but this bunch of friends as they fail to explore potential of drumsticks. One can make several dishes out of drumsticks. They are healthy and tasty. This spicy drumstick fry is invention of my wife – Its simple, quick to prepare, healthy and tasty. A typical side dish that fits well in today’s fast paced life. If there are kids in family, they have strange liking for drumsticks and nothing like it.
Cut, peel drumstick and put it in water. Cook them with a pinch of salt.
Heat oil, add seasonings and all spices.
Add the cooked drumstick and mix.
Our food habits have changed so much after we had kids. V and I grew up eating rice for lunch and dinner. But when Ishaan turned one, he preferred chapatis over rice. So I started making chapatis regularly. But we still had rice every day. Now after Ayaan was born, I had to come up with dishes that did not take a lot of manual work. We have started eating more salads, burgers (homemade, healthy ones), pastas, grilled fish/chicken etc, anything that saves me time. Sometimes dinner is ready in less than 30mins. There are two days a week when Ishaan does not have any classes in the evening when I can make chapatis or spend a little more time in kitchen. While trying to come up with more easy recipes, I realized making bread was actually much easier compared to making chapatis. Most of the hard work is done by my KitchenAid stand mixer. I just have to shape it and bake in oven. So I am making sure atleast one day of the week we eat pizza or bread. That is how it started and now I am totally into bread making!. My latest creation was this pesto filled flower shaped savory decorative bread.
From last few months, I was noticing amazing breads baked by Finla and Aparna. I finally asked Finla about these breads and she pointed me to the FB group We Knead to Bake started by Aparna. Here the members bake one bread every month, Aparna posts the recipe every month and everyone bakes it and posts it on a set date. It was just the thing I was looking for. I requested to join the group and Aparna was very kind to accept it. This month the members were asked to bake a savory decorative bread. I googled for ideas and this nutella bread caught my attention. It looked so beautiful and easy to make. I used store bought basil pesto instead of nutella because my child loves basil pesto.
Some of my friends surprised us on our anniversary last month with a cake. It is such a great thing to take out some time from our busy schedule and have fun with friends, at the same time making someone feel very special. One of my friends had her birthday last week. We decided to surprise her by showing up at her place with a cake and food. Since she is a vegetarian, I decided to bake an eggless cardamom cake.
I am little bit intimidated by eggless cakes. I usually bake cake with eggs, somehow I feel the eggless cakes become more dense. Whenever I have to bake an eggless cake, I usually bake date cake. I have baked this for my friends many times, so I wanted something different. When I was looking for the recipe, I came across Madhuram’s eggless vanilla cake. It looked very interesting. from there, I got to the original recipe from AllRecipes. I followed that version mostly with some minor modifications. As mentioned in many comments there, I used cake flour – all purpose flour + corn starch mixture. I replaced vanilla with freshly ground cardamom. The aroma of the cake was divine. When it was baking, my entire apartment filled with sweet cardamom aroma. The cake was not too fluffy like a cake with eggs, but it was soft and very tasty. I added a layer of strawberry jam in between two layers of cake for some extra taste.
I used cream cheese – butter frosting to decorate the cake. Instead of using the whole milk, I added cream. I also added a pinch of cardamom powder to the frosting. The frosting tasted so great and went well with the cake. I made the chocolate flowers and leaves using modeling chocolate. The recipe and method to make the modeling chocolate and roses can be found at Veena’s art of cake. (OMG, I am in love with that site, just check out all her tutorials!. I have learned so much from her in last few weeks). I mixed some of that melted modeling chocolate and mixed with frosting to write Happy Birthday on the cake.
My friends loved the cake. My efforts paid off. A big hats off to my 4 month old to let me work on the cake!.
Peel and powder cardamom. Sieve together all purpose flour, corn flour, baking soda and baking powder.
Take butter, orange juice, condensed milk and cardamom. Beat well to mix. (It is a good idea to beat butter first and then add other things to avoid splattering!). Then slowly add the flour mix a little at a time and mix well.
Add the batter in a greased pan. The batter is pretty thick, but it will bake beautifully. Bake in preheated oven.
Let the cake cool and then cut horizontally. Spread some strawberry jam in between(optional).
Keep the top layer. Make the icing and decorate the cake (optional step).
A very fragrant eggless cardamom cake, that is flavored with Orange juice and freshly ground cardamom
2 and ½ cups cake flour (see notes below)
2 tea spns baking powder
1 tea spn baking soda
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup orange juice
⅛ tea spn freshly ground cardamom powder
1 cup butter (I used salted butter)
Preheat oven at 350F for about 10mins.
Grease a baking dish with butter and flour, keep aside.
Sieve together dry ingredients - cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and keep aside.
Take condensed milk, orange juice, cardamom powder, butter in a bowl and beat till mixed.
Add the flour mixture a little at a time and mix till combined.
Bake at 350F for about 40-45mins till a tooth pick inserted in the center comes clean.
I did not have cake flour. So I made it at home. Take 2 and ½ cups all purpose flour and take out 5 tbl spns from from it. Add 5 tbl spn corn starch to it. I used a 8" pan which became a tad smaller. 9" pan as specified in original recipe would be perfect
We get frequent requests from our readers to post some very simple recipes that even beginners can cook. We normally cook many such dishes every day, but when it comes to blogging, we start thinking if it is really worth posting?. But now we are going to make a conscious effort to post such recipes here. This is a very simple green peas usal(usli) that my sister prepares frequently.
Green peas is very seasonal here. Frozen peas are not available in market in our place. So when we visited our daughter, this was one of the dishes I made frequently. It is a simple dish where every ingredient gives a nice taste to the dish. When frozen peas are used, it gets ready within few minutes.
Add mustard, cumin seeds, green chillies/red chilli powder, turmeric to hot oil.
Add green peas, little water, salt, cover and cook till peas are done.
Garnish with coconut and coriander leaves
One of my goals for this year is to learn bread making. I have tried my hands at baking bread many times, but I still feel it is one area of cooking that I have not explored much. So from last few weeks I have been trying breads at home. I am very happy with the results so far. Now I am all ready to try some different kinds of breads. Last week I tried this Spinach – cumin seed bread and it came out very very delicious. It could be served on its own but I prepared tomato-mozerella panini and it tasted heavenly. Some of my friends asked about the recipe, so I thought of posting it here.
V gifted me KitchenAid stand mixer last year and I made the dough in it. You could definitely make it without hand mixer but the mixer makes it easier. I feel it is much easier to make breads at home compared to making chapatis which takes a lot of manual work for me.
1 and 1/2 cups wheat flour
2 and 1/2 cups (approx) all purpose flour(maida)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tea spn honey
1 and 1/2 cups water
1 and 1/2 packed cups spinach (I used baby spinach)
1 tbl spn olive oil
Salt (approx 1 tea spn)
1 tea spn cumin seeds
1/2 tea spn pepper powder
1 tbl spn butter for brushing
Take 1/2 cup luke warm water and add the yeast and honey to it. Leave it aside for about 10mins till the yeast becomes active.
Grind spinach to a smooth paste using remaining 1 cup water.
Add spinach, cumin seeds, pepper powder, salt, olive oil to yeast.
Now add 1/2 cup wheat flour at a time till well mixed. Add parmesan cheese and mix.
At this point, start adding all purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time. Based on lot of factors, it may take from 2 to 3 cups of white flour. For me it took 2 and 1/2 cups to get a smooth dough.
Knead the dough very well for about 10-15mins. I let the stand mixer run for about 7-8mins.
Take the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a wet towel (I just left the dough in stand mixer bowl covered with wet towel). Leave the bowl aside for about 2hrs till the dough doubles in volume.
Now punch down the dough (no need to take it out of the bowl, just punch it to remove the air). Leave it covered for another 1hr till it doubles again.
After it has doubled again, punch it down again and mix well to get a smooth dough.
Shape it into desired shapes. Keep on a parchment paper and cover with the towel again. Leave it aside for 30mins till the bread has risen again.
Preheat the oven at 350F. I used a pizza stone in the oven.
Melt the butter and brush it on top of the bread. Slide the parchment paper in the oven on top of the pizza stone.
Bake at 350F for about 20mins, pull it out and brush with butter. Put it back in oven and bake till done (It took total of 30mins for me). Immediately brush the top with remaining butter (this helps in keeping the top little soft).
Let it cool for about 15mins and then cut into desired pieces.
My 4 year old is having his summer holidays. That means continuously trying to find something to keep him busy. Sometimes when I run out of things to do, he gets some TV time. Few days back when he was watching Daniel Tiger, where the tiger makes a banana bread. So the child wanted banana bread. I waited for few days till I had some over-ripe bananas which are hard to eat. So I baked this for him.
Now, I am not sure why this is called Banana bread. When I read wiki, banana bread had the same characteristics as a cake, only thing was it was baked in a bread loaf pan. Anyway, I decided to use both names here.
From many days, I wanted to bake something that uses honey instead of sugar. Also, to make it a little healthy, I thought of using all wheat flour (I used chapati atta). It was not overly sweet, but was absolutely delicious.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup oil
2 big cup over-ripe mashed banana (1 cup after mashing)
1 tea spn vanilla extract
1 tea spn baking soda
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tea spn butter and little flour for greasing the pan
Preheat the oven at 350F for 10mins. Grease a bread loaf pan with butter, sprinkle and spread flour. Keep aside.
Sieve together flour and soda.
Mash the bananas and add honey, milk, oil, vanilla extract. Beat well till everything is mixed.
Now add flour a little by little mixing all the time. The batter is very runny, but it will bake beautifully.
Spread half the almonds in the bottom of the prepared pan. Now pour the batter, spread remaining almonds on top.
Bake in the preheated over at 350F for about 30-40 mins till a knife/toothepick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the pan once it cools down a bit. Tastes great warm or cold.
When my children were growing up, I frequently made chaklis and other deep fried dishes. After they moved out to go to college, I hardly made any deep fried dishes. Sometimes we buy ready made munchies to eat with evening tea. At Kumta, we get chaklies of many different varieties. One of our favorite is Spinach chakli. When we were visiting Shilpa and her family in March, we thought of trying to make these at home. They came out so well and tasty. I made a big batch of chaklis before leaving for India.
4 cups (approx) or 1/2 lb baby spinach
2 tbl spns urad dal
4 cups rice flour
1 tea spn white sesame seeds
2 tbl spn (approx) water
6 tbl spn butter
1 tea spn cumin seeds
Roast urad dal till it is brownish. Make a smooth powder.
Grind spinach with minimum amount of water(approx 2 tbl spns) to a smooth paste.
Now mix the paste with all other ingredients(except oil) to a dough.
Make chaklis using the chakli press.
Deep fry chaklis.
Store in a air tight container.
PS: First time we tried, we used more butter. Everyone loved the texture and taste but they were breaking very easily. Next time we tried, we used less butter and they were harder but still very good. So use between 1/4 cup(4 tbl spn) to 1/2 cup(8tbl spn) butter based on your liking.