I finally got to making some dishes for Diwali. My 6 month old was down with cold for last few days and I was really trying hard to keep up with just day-to-day cooking. Since Ishaan is 4 years old, I thought he would have fun during this festival. I had a long list of dishes that I wanted to make, but I am glad I am slowly getting to atleast few of them.
Gulab Jamun is one of my favorite Indian sweets. We usually make these with khova/khoya. I normally make khova at home to make jamuns. But this time I did not have time to make it at home or to run to Indian store to get it. So I decided to try jamuns with paneer, which is readily available in my neighborhood grocery store. I wanted to follow the same recipe but just replace khova with paneer. Then last moment, I decided to add some cooked sweet potato to it to see how it would taste. The result was very soft and tasty jamuns.
Deep fried paneer and sweet potato balls dipped in cardamom flavored sugar syrup.
1 cup (8oz or 226g) crushed paneer
½ cup mashed sweet potatoes (around 150g before cooking)
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ tea spn baking soda
Oil/ghee for deep frying
2 cups sugar
3 cups water
½ tea spn cardamom powder
Heat sugar and water in a pan till it starts boiling.
Take off the heat and add cardamom powder.
Cook sweet potatoes in pressure cooker.
Peel them and grind to a smooth paste.
Mix paneer, sweet potato paste, all purpose flour, baking soda.
Make small balls out of the mixture. To make sure they don't fall apart, apply some pressure with palms to make sure they stay together.
Heat oil, add 1 tbl spn of ghee to oil.
Deep fry the jamuns, till they are deep brown.
Take them out on a paper towel.
When they are still warm, slide in warm syrup.
Aayi has this great tip. Instead of deep frying in all ghee, she adds just a tbl spn of ghee to a kadai of oil. That gives the aroma of ghee to the deep fried product. You can add few tea spns of milk to help in grinding sweet potatoes. It is optional.
Appe is one of the very popular breakfast loved by adults and kids alike. We make different kinds of appe like urad dal appe, boiled rice appe, sugarcane juice appe all of which a little planning ahead. My sister-in-law makes these sweet appe with sooji which can be made instantly. This is a nice and quick breakfast when you need to come up with something for breakfast quickly. Grinding or fermentation is not required for these which makes it easier for even beginners. They taste great when eaten immediately.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Make appe.
In Object Oriented Programming word, whenever there is clash between names, programmers prefix it with another name to make whole phrase unique. If there is a clash between function names, prefixing with object names them unique in that space. If there is clash between different objects of different classes, concept of namespaces comes to rescue. Prefixing with namespace resolves clashes when it comes to compiling. We do see this at many places in real life too. This generation of people at Kodkani used this so effectively to identify persons when there is such ‘identity crisis’. When my grandfather was alive, at my native there were multiple ‘Ram Annas’ working at different places. The Ram Anna who was working at post office was called ‘Post Ram Anna’. The other Ram Anna who was having shop called ‘Aangadi Ram Anna’(Aangadi means shop in Konkani/Kannada). There were multiple Mukund annas too. The one who lived in Aachari Hittal(an area in Kodkani) was called ‘Achari Hittal Mukundanna’, the other elderly person lived close to barron land and hence was referred ‘Bena vailo Mukundanna’. Such a simple concept was perhaps adopted while implementing compilers later!!
This recipe name must be quite puzzling. But this is how it is referred in my house as this recipe comes from a friend Venkat who is ex-colleague. He generally does not like eating outside his house and had invited us to his house once. This dish was prepared at his house and we liked and asked the name. He said for us chicken means this is it. When we say there is chicken today, it means it is only this chicken. We took recipe from him and in fact from his wife and prepared few times. It was liked by everybody. However as we prepare variety of chicken gravies and for us it is one amongst many gravies, we had to give a unique name – now over the years for us ‘Venkat’s chicken’ means it is this chicken gravy. This new brand was born few years back but recipe was perhaps established one at his place but certainly new to us.
Take the garam masala ingredients.
Dry roast all the garam masala ingredients and grind to a powder.
Take gravy ingredients.
Fry onions, chilies. Add the chicken.
Add the spices.
Add the ground spice. cook for sometime and then coriander leaves.
Chicken is cooked in a flavorful gravy prepared by grinding fresh spices and coconut to make this spicy and tasty chicken gravy.
½ kg Chicken
1 cup grated Coconut
2 tb spns Ginger garlic paste(we always prepare paste fresh and never use readymade paste)
1 chopped medium sized onion
5 Green chillies
2 tbl spns Red chilli powder
¼ tbl spn Turmeric powder
4-5 strands Coriander leaves
4 or 5 tbl spns Oil
For Garam masala powder:
4 tea spns Coriander seeds
1 tbl spn Poppy seeds
2 pieces 2 inch Cinnamon
Heat 4 tbl spoons of oil in a pan.
Add chopped onion and slit green chilies, shallow fry them.
Add cleaned and washed fresh chicken to bowl. Fry for 10 minutes under light flame
Add salt, turmeric powder, stir it and leave for 5 minutes.
Add Ginger-garlic paste, chilly powder.
Cook it for 5 minutes.
Add water as per gravy requirement (until chicken pieces are immersed in water upto another ⅓rd of content, as gravy thickens later)
Cook until water gets bubbles.
Dry roast Garam masala ingredients mentioned above along with grated coconut and make powder. Add to the mixture above.
Add salt and bring to boil.
Add chopped coriander leaves.
Cook it for 5 minutes and stop the flame (once the gravy turns thick).
Serve with bread or rotis.
We always prepare ginger-garlic paste fresh and never use ready-made paste. We feel that gives a better flavor. If you like to have slight variation, try adding Gongura leaves to get different taste and flavor. You may want to soak few Gongura leaves in hot water for few minutes, blanch and rinse them with normal water and add, while preparing this dish. Add coriander leaves. However this is not part of Venkat’s recipe and we did not want to dilute ‘brand Venkat’.
Magge or moggem is a special kind of cucumber. It is widely used in cooking at our place. In Bangalore, it is sold as Mangalore Southekayi (cucumber), this is called Dosakaya in Telugu. This is usually cooked before consuming, but there are few recipes where tender magge is eaten before cooking. These sundried cucumbers or magge salli are very popular among Konkanis in our area. Tender magge which are called magge murto are used for this dish. Once the pieces are sundried with all the spices, they are served like pickle. They have a nice crunch to them. We used to make these very frequently when we grew magge in our backyard. These days were buy tender ones from sante (farmer’s market). These stay good for a week or so.
Cut magge and apply salt and sundry.
Apply the spices and sundry again.
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