Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Fruit Cake

I have been wanting to bake this Christmas cake since forever - but, somehow was always scared to cook with rum and was really not sure if I had the patience in me to wait for the cooking time of almost 4 to 5 hours. 
This year - I got over all those fears and decided to bake a Christmas Fruit cake - also called the 'boozy' cake. even before I could look at recipes, we got the darkest rum available in the wine shop and then got some raisins, sultana, dried cherries, tutti fruti and dried cranberries. Mixed them all with the rum and saved it in an airtight container and let it stay there for over 3 months.
Then started looking for recipes. There are a lot of them over there and google threw a wonderful array of amazing recipes for me to look at. I read and read and read and got confused every-time  Finally i stumbled upon the recipe at deliaonline - how to bake a Christmas cake - one of the oldest and the most sought after recipes. So, decided to go ahead and make this one. It was a tad bit tough as the recipe has measurements in grams and ounces - I personally find it easier if the measurements are in cups and spoons - so, started to fist get the conversion of the measurements - then made a few changes, as the fruits were already soaking and were not as mentioned in the recipe - moreover, used rum instead of brandy - used allspice powder instead of the traditional nutmeg and cinnamon powders - did not used blanched almonds, but used slivered almonds inside the cake batter itself. But, overall, we were very very happy with the outcome. It did not feel that 'boozy' - because we baked this cake 2 days before Christmas and it was fed rum for just two days - he he he.
I hope to make this cake for next Christmas atleast a month in advance and feed it with rum for about 15 days atleast.


1 cup raisins
1 cup sultanas
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup tutti fruti (fruit peels)
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dark rum
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon allspice powder
1 cup unsalted butter
1¼ cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs, beaten to mix
1 tbsp honey
juice of half lemon
additional rum for 'feeding'


Take the raisins, sultanas, dried cherries, dried cranberries, tutti fruit in a large bowl and mix it with rum. Cover and allow to soak overnight at room temperature - Or as we did, keep it in an airtight container and let it soak for over 3 months.
Line an 9 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 275°F (140°C). Sift the flour, salt and spice together in a large bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together until blended well and the mixture looks light and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs and mix well till its a nice and fluffy mixture.
Stir in the dry ingredients (flour, spice and salt) and mix well till everything is blended together - take care not to over mix or over beat the mixture. Mix in the rum soaked fruits, slivered almonds, honey and the lemon juice and fold everything together.
Spoon the cake mixture into the spring-foam pan and level the surface. Cover the top of the cake with a double square of parchment paper with a 50 cents-size hole in the center (this gives extra protection during the long slow cooking). Place the spring-foam on a cookie sheet and bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4½-5 hours. Delia says that sometimes it can take up to ½-¾ hour longer than this, but in any case don't look till at least 4 hours have passed.
Cool the cake in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. Make small holes in the top and base of the cake with a cocktail stick or small skewer, then spoon over a few teaspoons of rum and cover it fully and let it rest.You can now feed it a few teaspoons of rum everyday until you need to ice it or eat it.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Udipi Style Sambar (Koddel)

The highlight of having vada or idli in any Udupi restaurant is the sambar. I still remember this restaurant called 'Sridevi' in Malad a suburb in Amchi Mumbai - that sambar taste was just divine.
I had tried a number of times to replicate the sambar - but, never really got the same taste.
Well - I stumbled upon a beautiful blog and saw the sambar picture and all those memories started flowing. The picture itself looked like the yummy sambar from 'Sridevi' 
Well, I had to try it - and voila........ it was just like the tasty Udupi restaurant sambar. 

The recipe link is here "koddel-the-udupi-style-sambar" - This blog is maintained by Pratiba who writes at "foodforjoy"

I have followed that recipe just like Pratiba mentioned in her blog - with the exception of green beans, as I had none of it in the refrigerator. I used pearl onions, okra, red pumpkin and dudhi instead.


1/4 cup Toor Dal - 1/4 cup
1 medium sized tomato - cut in quarters
A small ball of tamarind (Soaked in 1/2 cup of water for 1 hour) - I used the readymade tamarind paste, used 1/2 teaspoon of it
10 pearl onions - I used the frozen ones
5 lady fingers/okra/bhindi - cut into two pieces
5 pieces of red pumpkin - cut as big as the tomato quarters
5 pieces of dudhi - cut as big as the tomato quarters
you can add more of it if you wish
1 tablespoon jaggery - grated
1/2 teaspoon turmeric Powder
3 cups water - more or less depending on the consistency of the curry  you like
salt as per taste

to grind

6 to 7  dried kashmiri  chillies
1/2 tablespoon Urad Dal / Black gram split lentil
1/2 tablespoon Channa Dal / split garbanzo
1 tablespoon Coriander Seeds / Akha Dhania
1/2 cup freshly grated coconut - I buy the frozen ones and used that
1 teaspoon coconut Oil

For tempering

1 tablespoon coconut Oil
1/2 teaspoon Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
10 - 12  curry Leaves
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
2 dried kashmiri chilis


In a karahi or a frying pan add the 1 teaspoon oil (from the to grind list) and stir fry the kashmiri chilis, urad dal, chana dal, coriander seeds. When a nice aroma comes out add the coconut and mix well. Turn the heat off and keep stiring till all the ingredients are mixed together well. Let it cool down. Once its cooled, add this to a blender along with 1/4 cup water and blend untill you get a smooth mixture. If the mixture is too thick and difficult to blend, add another 1/4 cup water and blend to a smooth mixture.
In a pressure cooker, add the toor dal, tomatoes along with the turmeric powder and add 1 cup of water. Cook for upto 4 whistles. Open the pressure cooker lid once the pressure is released. Mash the cooked dal with the help of the back of a ladel.
In a saucepan, add the tamarind paste and the jaggery along with 1/2 cup water. Once the jaggery is melted, add the red pumpkin pieces and the dudhi pieces, cover and cook this for about 10 minutes. Then ad the pearl onions and cook for another 5 minutes. Now add the ground smooth paste and mix well. To this add the cooked dal along with salt as per taste and mix well. Add 1 cup water - you can add less or more water as per the consistency you like of the sambar/kodel. Add the bhindi to this curry and cover and let it boil for 5 more minutes. Turn the heat off and let it sit.
In a small wok/fry pan - add the oil from the for tempering list. Once it heats up, add the mustard seeds, when they splutter, add the cumin seeds and the curry leaves and the dried kashmiri chilies and the asafoetida. Turn the heat off. Take this wok carefully and add it to the sambar/kodel in the saucepan and cover it immediately.
Serve hot with rice or idlis

Ladi Pav

Pav-Bhaji, Misal-Pav, Masala-Pav, Vada-Pav and the ever so humble Maska-Pav with chai are an all time favorite. a person who has grown up in Bombay (now Mumbai) will easily identify with all these yummy delicacies. 
After moving to the US, I tried and made these things at home - but, never got the Pav taste ever. The burger buns never did justice to the dishes. The closest to our Mumbai Ladi-Pav were the potato rolls and then the kaiser rolls.
Finally decided to bake this pav at home too.Tried tried and tried many variations and combinations and finally this was what made the cut for us. This recipe yielded the taste of home (Mumbai) ladi-pav and has been a favorite since. Street food of Mumbai became famous again in our small home in the US :)


3 1/2 cups of All purpose flour / Bread flour
          more flour for dusting while kneading (I used up about 1/4 cup more for this)
2 tsp of dry active yeast
4 TBS of sugar
1/4 cup warm water
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk
          Some more to glaze the pavs before baking (About 8 tablespoons) - this is optional
1/2 tsp of salt


Add the sugar and yeast to warm water and stir well. Keep it aside in a warm place to proof the yeast - to get it frothy and active - this should take about 10 to 15 minutes. If the yeast does not froth, then discard this mixture and try again.
Melt the butter and add the 1/2 cup milk and 3/4 cup water (at room temperature) to it. To this add the yeast mixture and salt. Now add the flour, 1 cup at a time to this mixture to form a sticky dough.
Dust a clean surface with some generous amount of flour and knead the dough for about 10 minutes till it becomes soft and smooth. This is to get the gluten going to get those fluffy and soft pavs. You can use your electric mixer (like kitchenaid) to do this for you too.
Put this dough into a large bowl and grease the dough with oil. Cover with a plastic wrap or a clean towel and let it rise to double in warm and dry place for about an hour. Once the dough has doubled, punch it to remove all the extra air and knead it again very well. Divide the dough into 15 equal parts and roll each part into a smooth ball.
Grease a baking dish (I used a 9 X 13 cake dish) with oil and place these dough balls into the dish about 1/4 inch apart. Cover with a plastic wrap or clean towel and let them stand for about 1 hour for a second raise. Once the dough rises, you will see that the dough balls have doubled in size and are sticking to each other. Glaze the tops of these pavs with some milk that is brushed gently - this is to give it a nice shine. You can do this glaze with eggs too Or you could skip this glaze process.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the pavs for about 15 to 18 minutes. The top of the pavs should look a nice golden brown color.
Once done, let it cool on a wire rack and then pull it apart to get individual pavs. Relish with bhaji, vada, maska or just dip it in tea and enjoy the yummy softness.

To make Burn Pav - The hard on the outside but soft inside pav that we got at Irani Restaurants.
I had kept a bowl of water on the lower rack of the oven to create a steam - cranked the heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit - baked for about 12 minutes. And I got the hard top but soft inside 'Burn Pav' - a delicacy with yummm maska (butter)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...