Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Goan Style Masoor Amti

Every Goan or Manglorean house will always have something cooked with a coconut based gravy. Food somehow seems incomplete without that special ingredient. The method of cooking remains the same as some ingredients may change from households to households. But, this food is amazing and gives you a feel of home away from home.
I learnt to cook this food from my Mom. Well, I have changed my style a little bit from hers - but, the basics still remain the same. We do not cook this kind of food everyday at home and hence it has become a delicacy whenever we make it.


I cup masoor (whole red lentils)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 big onion
7 cloves garlic
1/2 inch ginger piece
1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste
2 tablespoons coconut oil (you ca use any other oil - but coconut oil works best)
5 kashmiri chilis (you can add more to make it spicy or less to make it less spicy)
2 tablespoons whole corinader seeds (akha dhania)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
salt to taste


Soak the masoor in 3 to 4 cups of water for about 4 to 6 hours. Wash the soaked masoor well and drain it. In a saucepan add 2 cups of water, the turmeric powder, the asafoetida and the soaked and drained masoor and let this mixture come to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. This is to get the masoor cooked.
In a karahi - dry roast the whole coriander seeds and the kashmiri chilis for about 2 minutes. Remove them onto a plate. Now add the coconut oil to the karahi, add the chopped onions and garlic and fry till the onions become a nice golden color. Add the ginger and mix well. Now add the tamarind paste, the garam masala and the coconut and let this mixture roast for about 5 minutes - stir it continuously and do not let it burn. Add dry roasted corinader seeds and the kashmiri chillis to this mixture and let it cool.
Add a cup of water and grind this mixture to a fine paste. You can a little more water to ease the grinding - but, be careful not to make it too watery.
Add this mixture to the cooked masoor - you can use the same saucepan or use another one. Bring this mixture to a boil. Add salt as per taste.
Serve hot with steamed rice, chappatis or Dosas - even our humble bread tastes good with this. I serve it with some yogurt too.
I served this curry with waffle dosas (well, thats dosas made in a waffle iron).
Waffle dosas is something that I had seen on pinterest and a few blogs too. Its an interesting way to get your kids to eat the Indian dosas as the American waffles :)

My Mom's Yummy Vanilla Cake

MY mom used to bake this awesome cake at home almost once every month. The whole house used to smell so yummy with vanilla flavors floating in the air. Our neighbors knew instantly that a few slices of cake would be coming their way for their evening cup of tea. She still bakes the cake just this way and it is still one of the yummiest cakes I have ever eaten.

I love baking breads and cakes. I have experimented baking a lot of different types of cakes and lots of different types of breads too. But, her recipe is still the closest to my heart - and when it comes to baking a simple vanilla cake or a chocolate cake - I just run to this no fail recipe. The spongy and yummy cake is a favorite even at my home now. Thanks Mom for this yummy treat and the most awesome cake recipe. 

Sharing her recipe here for all the friends who have asked for this recipe over and over again. The picture here is of a chocolate cake I baked using this recipe for my Daughter's Christmas Party at school. Pardon me for the unflattering image as I just clicked it using my phone before heading for the party. Will bake this cake again and share new photos soon.


1 cup oil/ghee/butter (for best results always use butter)
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour (maida)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (this is optional - but, mom always added a bit)


In a big mixing bowl - mix together the butter and sugar till all the sugar is melted. Then add the eggs and beat well till all is mixed well. Then add milk and maida little by little and keep mixing to avoid lumps. Add salt, baking powder, lemon juice and essence and mix well. 
Take a baking pan and dust it well - add the cake mixture to fill the pan to 1/2 to 3/4 capacity. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake it till the center of the cake when pierced with a toothpick comes out clean.

I generally bake this in my bundt pan - which is bigger than the usual 8X8 square pan. 

  • To make chocolate cake - mix 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the mixture and mix well.
  • To make layers - divide the batter into 2 parts - leave one as is and in the other one add 1/4 cup of coca powder and layer in the baking pan. 
  • I make strawberry cake - by substituting the vanilla essence with strawberry essence and 2 drops of red coloring - and to add some effect I add diced fresh or dried strawberries.
  • You can add dry fruits or tutti fruity to make a fruit cake - just dust them with all purpose flour and add to the cake batter before pouring it into the baking pan.
  • You can add two tablespoons of lemon zest and increase the lemon juice to 1 tablespoon to get a nice yummy lemon cake.
  • I have baked these into cupcakes too and they come out amazing.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Meen Mulakittathu - simple kerala fish curry

Dear Husband has been the master of the kitchen for a few months now. Thanks to my health and a recent surgery. He has made some real good food with instructions from me (sitting on a chair munching grapes). I will post all of those food pictures and their recipes soon.......... Oh Yes! he has made sure that I click pictures of everything that he has cooked int eh past few months.
I cannot say this enough - But, recovery would have been tough had it not been for his and our 3 year old kiddo's love and affection and constant care. Love them both to bits. I thank the Lord every second of every minute of every day for this.
Yesterday he joined his office after a 2 week leave (for my recovery). He was working from home and hence he shut his laptop at around 5:30 PM and came to the living room where kiddo and I were playing - He said he was tired of eating the frozen (home cooked) food and wanted to cook something for dinner. Well, we did not have a lot of groceries, as we were not making food everyday. Found some fish fillets in the freezer - onions, tomatoes, garlic and ginger is always available in the house - and spices......... well, every Indian house has a lot of spices always readily available.
So, we set out to make a quick fish curry that could be eaten with steamed rice and that could be cooked with minimal effort.


2 pounds fish - I used boneless and skinless swai fillets - you can use Tilapia, Catfish or any other fish of your choice.
1 onion - finely chopped
1 tomato - finely chopped
5 to 6 cloves of garlic - grated
1/2 inch piece of ginger - grated
2 strings of curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 teaspoons kashmiri chilli powder - you can add more if you like the heat 
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon tamarind pulp - kodampuli (fish kokum from kerala)  is used for this curry, since I did not have it at home, we used some tamarind pulp
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek powder
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cups hot water
salt to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish


A clay pot is generally used to make kerala fish curries - Well, I have a stoneware pot and I used that - you can even use a non-stick saucepan or a karahi to make this curry.
In the vessel of your choice, add the coconut oil, when it gets hot, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the fenugreek seeds add the curry leaves and fry for a few seconds. Add the chopped onions and fry till they turn a nice pink color. To this add the tomatoes, ginger and garlic and mix well. Cook till the tomatoes are softened and the oil leaves the side of the vessel. Now add the turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, fenugreek powder, tamarind paste and asafoetida and mix well. Keep stirring for about 2 minutes till the masala powders are well integrated and the mixtures get a nice red hue. Now add 2 cups of hot water (you can add more if you want the curry to be a little less thick). Add salt to taste. Cover and let this mixture come to a boil. Once it starts to boil, bring the heat to medium low and add the fish pieces one by one. Be careful not to stir this mixture a lot, or the fish will break. Simmer for about 20 minute on medium low flame. Check if the fish is cooked, else simmer for another 10 minutes. Shut the heat, cover the vessel and let this curry sit for about an hour (you can actually make it a day in advance and let it sit for the flavors to get mulled together). Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with steaming white rice.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Patoli inspired Kheer

After moving to the US about 7 years ago - I started missing a lot of things that I had taken for granted while in India - especially the traditional food items. I quickly got around to learning how to cook those delicacies with the help of my Mom and various recipe books that I had got from India.
Patoli - a very traditional konkani dish made with rice and coconut and jaggery that is steamed in turmeric leaves - well, this dish was genuinely missed as I could not find turmeric leaves anywhere here. Finally, one day while surfing the net I saw that turmeric leaves could be grown at home by plating the turmeric roots thats were easily available int eh Indian store here. The wet turmeric root looks very much like ginger root, but is a a bit leaner and does have a strong turmeric aroma to it and is ofcorse yellow.
So, I got those turmeric roots and got a big planter with soil and planted the roots. I was waiting patiently for over 2 months and then finally I saw a tiny shoot appear. And now after about 4 months, I have a turmeric plant at home. The leaves are still not as big as we need them to make patoli............ but, hopefully next year it will happen.
But - what about the craving for patoli..............
Well, I was making Cheppi Kheeri for Janmashtami anyways - thats a rice kheer with milk and turmeric leaves to infuse some aroma and its got no sugar. So just thought of making some sweet kheer also - thus came the Patoli inspired kheer. Its rice, milk, turmeric leaves, jaggery and some coconut. Tasted just like Patoli. 


1/2 cup any aromatic rice (ambemohur, basmati, jasmine) - I used ambemohur
2 cups milk
4 turmeric leaves
1 cup jaggery (you can add more if you want it sweeter)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder


Wash the rice in water untill you get absolutely clear water. In a saucepan add the rice and the milk and crush the turmeric leaves (leave them whole) - if you can, tie them in a knot before adding to the milk and rice mixture. Cook this mixture on a medium flame untill the rice is cooked fully. Keep stirring occasionally. Once the rice is cooked, add the coconut flakes, jaggery and the cardamom powder and let it simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Let it cool down a bit. Before serving, remove the turmeric leaves and serve warm, at room temperature or cold.
If you wish to - you can add some cashew, raisins, almonds etc.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Atte ka Halwa - Karah Prashad

Someone asked about this awesome sweet dish on one of the foodie groups I follow on Facebook - and boy there was a lot of discussion and exchange of recipes for this dish. I started craving for some of it after reading all the posts. 
This is a nice dish just like the sooji ka halwa and is yummy. It is also generally the prasad/prashad that is served at a 'Gurudwara'. A friend's grandmom (we called her Babi) had thought me how to make this a long long time ago - I had made it just once after getting the recipe and never cooked this halwa after that - ofcorse the best stuff was available at the Gurudwara close to home (back in India)
I had forgotten about this yummy stuff - Been over 8 years since I had some of this halwa - Thanks to the question asked by the person on the group and thanks to all the yummy pictures and yummy recipes posted by everyone - I craved for it - I just made it using 'Babi's' recipe. Loved having it after lunch as some dessert.


1 cup ghee (clarified butter)
1 cup wheat four (atta)
2 cups hot water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped almonds (or any other nut of your choice)
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder


In a karahi or heavy based pot warm the ghee till it melts and forms small bubbles.. Add the wheat flour and mix well on medium low heat. Keep stirring till you get a nice aroma and the flour changes color to a nice caramel one - this would take about 15 minutes.  atta and mix on low heat. Add the water - be very careful as it will sizzle and water bubbles can burn your hand and fingers. Once the water is added, mix the wheat and ghee into it very well so that no lumps are formed. This will slowly start looking less watery and more like a halwa. Now add the sugar and cardamom powder and half of the chopped almonds and mix well till all the sugar is melted. Keep stirring till the halwa leaves the sides of the pan and everything comes together. Remove it into a serving dish and garnish with the balance almonds. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Torcettini di Saint Vincent (Sugar Crusted Twisted Cookies from the Valle d’Aosta) - We Knead to Bake # 4

Month No. 4 for 'We Knead to Bake' - I am loving this project. I always loved baking breads and cakes and cookies too. However, never actually tried or even knew of so many different varieties out there. This project has made me love bread baking all the more and the beauty is I get to learn new recipes.

This month Aparna who pens at My Diverse Kitchen had us bake a yeasty cookie. It has this beautiful knotty shape and that sugar on top. Its a yummy crunchy on the outside and soft and airy on the inside kinda cookie that can be dunked in tea, coffee or even dessert wine (yes, we tried it with some yummy blueberry wine) 

Torcettini are smaller versions of Torcetti (meaning small twists), and these pear/ teardrop shaped twists are made of a dough of flour, yeast and butter which are shaped and then rolled in sugar before being baked. These biscuits are synonymous with the town of Saint Vincent in Valle d'Aosta, a small mountainous region in North-Western Italy, even though they’re well known throughout the Piedmont region as well.
The origin of these biscuits is believed to be from Grissini (breadsticks) which were made from the leftover scraps of bread dough. According to one story, a Grissini baker had some leftover butter which he needed to use up. Inspiration struck and he decided to add the butter to the last batch of his Grissini dough for the day. To be able to differentiate this lot of “breadsticks”, he rolled them in sugar and shaped them into loops, and the Torcetti was born. Torcetti/ Torchettini taste even better when they’re flavoured with lime/ lemon zest or anise.

These biscuits are crunchy, not very sweet and pair very well with cold milk, hot chocolate, tea/ coffee or wine. They are delicious served warm and equally good cold, and keep very well if stored in airtight containers. Apparently, Queen Margaret, the wife of King Umberto I of Savoy loved these biscuits so much during her stay in Valle d'Aosta, that she gave her servants enough provisions to bake an abundant supply for her consumption.

Recipe adapted from A Baker's Tour by Nick Malgieri


1/2 cup warm water, about 110F
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 tsp instant yeast)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder (if making chocolate torcettini)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lime/ lemon zest (replace with orange zest for the chocolate version)
40 gms (3 and 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sugar for rolling the cookies


Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, in a small bowl and keep aside.
Put the flour and the salt in the food processor bowl (or a largish regular bowl if kneading by hand) and pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is well mixed and the flour-butter mixture looks powdery.
If making chocolate Torcettini, remove 2 tbsp all-purpose flour and add the 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder mentioned in the recipe. Don’t add the lemon zest/ anise. Use orange zest and maybe add 1/ 2 tsp instant coffee powder with the flour.

Add the yeast-water mixture and pulse till it all comes together as a ball. Do not over process or knead. Place the ball of dough in a oiled bowl, turning it so it is well coated with the oil. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise quite a bit. 

This dough does not really double in volume, but it should look “puffy” after about an hour or so. When you pinch off a bit from the top you can see the interior looking a bit like honeycomb. Press down the dough and deflate it, wrap it in cling warp and refrigerate it for at least one hour or up to 24 hours. 
When ready to make the cookies, take the dough out and lightly roll it out into an approximately 6” square. If the dough feels sticky, scatter a little sugar on it. Using a pizza wheel cut the dough into four strips of equal width. Cut each strip into 6 equal pieces, by cutting across, making a total of 24 pieces. The measurements are not very critical in this part because this just makes it easier to have 24 equal sized bits of dough, as compared to pinching of bits of the dough.

Roll each piece into a pencil thick “rope” about 5” long. Sprinkle a little sugar on your work surface and roll the “rope” in it so the sugar crusts the dough uniformly. Form the “rope” into a loop crossing it over before the ends.

Place the Torcettini on parchment lined baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2" between them. Leave them for about 20 minutes or so till they rise/ puff up slightly. Don’t worry, they will not “puff up” much.
Bake them at 160C (325F) for about 25 minutes till they’re a nice golden brown. Cool the cookies completely, on a rack. Store them in an air-tight container at room temperature. This recipe makes 24 to 30  biscuits.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Nutella Brownies (just 3 ingredients)

I had seen this 3 ingredient brownie on pinterest a while ago and always wanted to try them. Super quick and super easy with just 3 ingredients, one bowl and a cupcake mould or a square brownie mould. Yummy brownies in no time and just one bowl to clean after. Who would not like that.


1 cup nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
10 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 eggs
Chopped nuts (optional)


Mix the nutella, eggs and the flour well and make a brownie mixture. You can spread this batter into a square brownie tray or add 2 tablespoons of batter to a cupcake mould lined with paper cups. Add chopped nuts on top of the batter. Bake it at 350 degrees farhenhite till done. Cupcakes would take about 10 to 15 minutes - the square brownie tray would take about 25 to 30 minutes. Check if its done by inserting a toothpick into the brownie - if it comes clean its done.

Torta De Cielo (Mexican Almond Cake)

Baking is a passion. Cakes, cookies, bread - you name it and I will jump to have it done. Every year for my husband's birthday I bake a different cake. We have made the humble vanilla cake, chocolate cake, fresh strawberry cake, his favorite pear and ginger cake, date and walnut cake (my mum had baked that one).

This year was no different. I started looking at what I could bake to make his special day extra special. Well,  I found the almond meal packet in my freezer (I had got this to make the french macron - well, never got to make em) and decided to bake an almond cake. 

I had picked up this simple baking book from homegoods and found this cake (torte) recipe that I loved and thought of making it.

Torta De Cielo is a Mexican Almond cake and generally is made by using whole almonds with or without skin which is coarsely powdered in a food processor. Since I already had the almond meal ready, I used that.

This cake is generally bakes in a round baking dish - just like a torte. Well, since half of my stuff is in storage due to our future move, I baked this cake in a bundt pan.


1 cup unsalted butter
1 and 1/4 cup almond meal (you can use whole almonds too)
1 and 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 tablespoons all purpose flour
pinch of salt


Lightly grease an 8" round cake pan OR as I have used, you can use a bundt pan too. If you are using whole almonds, then place them in a food processor and process to form a mealy mixture.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar untill smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs, almond extract and vanilla extract to this mixture and mix for about 3 to 5 minutes till its a nice fluffy mixture. Add the almond meal/almond mix and salt to this mixture and mix well. Now add the flour and fold it into this mixture till everything is incorporated. Do not over mix at this stage, just fold everything in.
Pour the batter into the greased pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit for about 40 to 45 minutes, or untill a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let it stand to cool. You can dust it with powdered sugar and decorate with toasted almond slivers.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Palak ani Dalichi Vatun Amti - Coconut based Dal curry with Spinach

I follow the blog monsoonspice and love all that Sia has to say there. Her writing is wonderful and the person reading it just does not wish to stop. I also like all her pictures - she is an amazing photographer. Her recipes are simple and tasty. 
The other day she posted a dal recipe also called ambat in Konkani - the link for which is here. This is a staple in konkani households. Infact, I cook this dal atleast once a week and I make it with spinach, malabar spinach, dill, fresh fenugreek leaves, red amaranth leaves - I have even used raddish with its leaves in this dal. We love the use of coconut in our cooking - thats the konkani blood in me and my husband speaking.
Her post made me realise that such staple and simple things which are everyday food we savor and eat can also be a part of the blog and they indeed should be there. I thank her for making me realise this.
My palak Amti/Ambat is very similar to how she cooked - except that I grind the onion along with the coconut and chillies. But, this is simple yummy food with steamed rice and poppadoms and the humble lime pickle. We savor this Amti/Ambat with fried fish too. 


2 cups roughly chopped baby spinach
1 cup toor dal
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1 medium onion
1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste
2 cloves garlic (optional)
1/2 cup grated coconut
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 to 3 dried red chillies (I used 2 byadgi and 1 kashmiri) - you can use more if you like
1 tablespoon coriander seeds (akha Dhania)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 to 5 curry leaves
1 tablespoon coconut oil (you can use olive oil, groundnut oil or canola oil too)


Wash the dal well, add 2 cups of water, the asafoetida and turmeric, spinach and a few drops of oil and pressure cook the dal untill 3 whistles. Release the pressure and mash the dal with the back of a spoon and let it stand.
Mix together grated coconut, roughly chopped onion, garlic, dried red cillies, tamarind paste and coriander seeds in a blender, add about 1/4 cup water and blend this mixture to a fine paste. If the mixture becomes too dry and difficult to blend, add 2 tablespoons water at a time and blend again.
In a kadai/saucepan, take the coocnut oil, when it gets hot, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter, now add the curry leaves and let them saute for about 10 second. Now add the dal and the blended spice mixture and mix well. Add salt to taste and let this mixture boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for about a 15 minutes to half hour.
Serve with boiled white rice and poppadoms. This goes well with hot and soft phulkas too.

Hokkaido Milk Bread - We Knead to Bake # 3

This month 'We Knead to Bake' was all about an easy fluffy and yummy bread called the 'Hokkiado Milk Bread' also known as the 'Asian Milk Bread' or the 'Hong Kong Pai Bo'. A bread very popular in South East Asia. Well, now its very popular here at our home too.

This bread is super soft because of the use of 'Tangzhong' - thats the secret (well, not so secret now) weapon.

The Hokkaido Mild Bread owes its texture and height to the use of an interesting ingredient called Tangzhong. Basically, the Tangzhong method involves cooking 1 part of bread flour with 5 parts of water (by weight) at 65°C (149 °F) to form a roux.  
At 65°C, the gluten in the bread flour and water mixture would absorb the moisture and create a “leavening” action.  When the Tangzhong is added into other ingredients that go into a bread dough, it produces light, tender and fluffier bread.
This method of using Tangzhong is often seen in South Asian breads and was created by a Chinese woman, Yvonne Chen, who describes this method in her book which translates to “65 degrees Bread Doctor”.
(Picked this note up from the information about Tangzhong as mentioned by Aparna in her blog)


For The Tangzhong (Flour-Water Roux) 
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk

For The Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoon sugar
1teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons powdered milk
2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
1/2 cup milk (and a little more if needed)
1/8 cup cream (25% fat)
1/3 cup tangzhong (use HALF of the tangzhong from above)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)


I have mentioned the recipe exactly as Aparna wrote in her blogpost (for Hokkiado Bread) on her FoodBlog

The Tangzhong  (Flour-Water Roux)

Whisk together lightly the flour and water in a saucepan until smooth and there are no lumps. Place the saucepan on the stove, and over medium heat, let the roux cook till it starts thickening. Keep stirring/ whisking constantly so no lumps form and the roux is smooth.

If you have a thermometer, cook the roux/ tangzhong till it reaches 65C (150F) and take it off the heat. If you don’t have a thermometer, then watch the roux/ tangzhong until you start seeing “lines” forming in the roux/ tangzhong as you whisk/ stir it. Take the pan off the heat at this point.
Let the roux/ tangzhong cool completely and rest for about 2 to 3 hours at least. It will have the consistency of a soft and creamy crème patisserie. If not using immediately, transfer the roux to a bowl and cover using plastic wrap. It can be stored in the fridge for about a day. Discard the tangzhong after that.

The Bread Dough

I made this dough in the food processor. This dough can be made by hand but the dough is a bit sticky and can take some time and effort to knead by hand. If you have some sort of machine which will do the kneading for you, use it. Don’t punish yourself. And do not add more flour to make it less sticky either!
Put the flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and instant yeast in the processor bowl and pulse a couple of times to mix. In another small bowl mix the milk, cream and Tangzhong till smooth and add to the processor bowl. Run on slow speed until the dough comes together. Now add the butter and process till you have a smooth and elastic dough which is just short of sticky.
The dough will start out sticky but kneading will make it smooth. If the dough feels firm and not soft to touch, add a couple of teaspoons of milk till it becomes soft and elastic. When the dough is done, you should be able to stretch the dough without it breaking right away.  When it does break, the break should be form a circle.
Form the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl turning it so it is well coated. Cover with a towel, and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or till almost double in volume.
Place the dough on your working surface. You don’t need flour to work or shape this dough. This recipe makes enough dough to make one loaf (9” by 5” tin), 2 small loaves (6” by 4” tins) or 1 small loaf (6” by 4”) and 6 small rolls (muffin tins). Depending on what you are making, divide your dough. If you are making 1 loaf, divide your dough in 3 equal pieces. If you are making two smaller loaves, divide your dough into 6 equal pieces.
The shaping of the portions, whether for the loaf or the rolls, is the same.
Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape, about 1/8” thick. Take one end of the dough from the shorter side of the oval and fold it to the middle of the oval. Take the other end and fold so it slightly overlaps the other fold. (See the collage)
Roll this folded dough with the rolling pin so the unfolded edges are stretched out to form a rectangle. Roll the rectangle from one short edge to the other, pinching the edges to seal well. Do this with each of the three larger pieces and place them, sealed edges down, in a well-oiled loaf tin. Cover with a towel and leave the dough to rise for about 45 minutes.
To make the rolls fold them in the same manner described above, but before rolling them up, place some chocolate chip on the dough. Roll the dough rectangles carefully and pinch to seal the edge. Place each roll of dough in a well-oiled muffin cup and cover with a towel. Allow to rise for about 45 minutes.
Carefully brush the tops of the rolls and the loaf with milk (or cream) and bake them at 170C (325F) for about 20 to 30 minutes till they are done (if you tap them they’ll sound hollow) and beautifully browned on top. Let them cool in the tins for about 5 minutes and then unmould and transfer to a rack till slightly warm or cool.
Serve or else store in a bread bin. This bread stays soft and delicious even the next day. This recipe makes enough dough to make one loaf (9” by 5” tin), 2 small loaves (6” by 4” tins) or 1 small loaf (6” by 4”) and 6 small rolls (muffin tins).

Loaded Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is a very favorite at our home. My husband actually has this soup along with half a sandwich during his business trips at a Panera Bread if he can find one in the city that he travels to.
My kiddo has loved this soup since she was what six months old. We used to puree the soup and give it to her and she would lap up an entire bowl without any fuss. Well, now we do not need to puree it like before.
We have been making this soup at home with chicken, carrots, onions, garlic, celery and ofcorse chicken with some Italian spices. Thought of just taking it a little bit further and making it a compete meal by adding a few other ingredients. It was a good meal in a bowl with some nice easy peasy home made artisan bread


2 carrots
1 medium onion
5 cloves garlic
3 to 4 celery stalks
2 cups of small bits of chicken (I use breast meat) - about 2 to 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 can cannelloni beans
1 to 1 & 1/2 cups broken spaghetti (you can add more or less - or any pasta of your choice)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste
5 cups chicken stock (to make it quick) OR 7 cups water and let it simmer for longer


Finely chop the onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Add the oil to a big saucepan and add these veggies to this oil. Once they start to sweat, add some salt and add the chicken pieces. Mix well till the chicken turns a nice white color (the pink is gone). Now add drained cannelloni beans, chopped spinach,  dried Italian herbs, pasta, pepper powder and mix well. Add water or stock and mix well. Bring it to a nice boil. Once this mixture boils, bring the heat to medium low and cover the saucepan and let the soup simmer.
If you are using stock, the simmer time becomes less, as stock has a lot of flavor. maybe in an hour or so the soup is ready to savor. However, if you are using plain water, it takes some time for the water to become flavorful. Soup should be ready in about 3 to 4 hours.
This tastes good with bread and salad - becomes a complete meal in a bowl.

You can make this into a vegetarian soup by not adding the chicken - and substituting vegetable stock for chicken stock, if you plan to use stock/broth

Monday, March 25, 2013

No Knead Bread

Artisan Breads look so beautiful and it always seems like a lot of work has gone into baking them. Also, it has that unique homemade feel to it. The shape, the colors everything says 'its beautiful'. 
Sourdough Bread is one such bread and an all time favorite. Baking a sourdough bread was a dream come true for me. I mean baking the final bread was easy - but, getting the starter done and waiting for it to ferment over a couple of days was the tough part. Moreover, you need to keep baking sourdough breads regularly to keep the starter alive or atleast keep feeding the starter to keep it alive. In my case, I used to just feed the starter to keep it alive (as I did not bake this bread frequently) - and well, as you can guess......... I had more of the starter and I could actually open a bakery for sourdough bread.
I had to finally discard the starter with a very heavy heart.
I then came across this book Artisan Bread in five minutes a day - and the basic 'Boule Bread' recipe. It looked like the sourdough bread and it was very very easy to make. Takes just about 4  hours to get the bread ready on your table. - and you have an Artisan Bread that you made at home by yourself to boast about.
This has been a regular bread at home. Holds stuff well for sandwiches & paninis, goes great with soups and is divine when it is toasted lightly with a little bit of butter.


6 and 1/2 cups - All Purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tablespoon - Active Dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon - Salt
3 cups - Lukewarm Water (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
Cornmeal for dusting - I used flour as I had no cornmeal at home


In a large mixing bowl, add flour, yeast and salt. Pour the lukewarm water  and with a wooden spatula mix this mixture till a lump-free sticky dough forms - about 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap or a kitchen towel and let it rest for minimum 2 hours.
Spread the cornmeal or flour on kitchen counter (you can use a wide mouth plate too) and put the risen dough on this. Cover the dough also with flour and form into a ball by rolling gently on the counter. Place this ball on a baking sheet (I used a pizza pan) and let it rest for 30-40 minutes for a second rise. With a sharp knife, make 3 lines to help the steam out while baking. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and place the baking tray/sheet into the oven. On the oven floor (below the baking tray) place bowl with water (this helps to keep the bread moist). Bake for 30-35 minutes or till you hear a hollow sound when you tap the top of the bread. once done remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
I made two round breads with the entire dough mixture.

If you are not going to use the entire dough mix - then, you can freeze this dough up to 2 months.  After the first rise of 2 hours - wrap the unused dough tightly in cling foil and freeze.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

oats and cardamom cake

I take my 2.5 year old daughter to a mommy and me spin and stretch class in our community. She loves it there and goes about doing all the stretching exercises along with the instructor.
It has been a good 10 weeks and the class is coming to an end now. We mommies along with the instructor decided to have a small party (potluck) for the kiddos and also us adults. We wanted it to be a pizza party - but, the instructor seems to be very good at maintaining her diet and avoids sweets, all purpose flour, cheese etc etc. It was hence decided to be a fruits and popcorn party.
I was the chosen to bring bite sized pineapples.
However, the instructor had said if I could bake something healthy, she would love that too. Hence, I started to explore healthy baking options.
Well, this is a trial recipe - which turned out good int eh first go itself. I love the taste of cardamom and the bite from the oats. 
I hope they all like it tomorrow at the party too.


1 and 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 and 1/2 cups Quaker oats (quick oats)
1/2 cup all purpose flour OR wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 tablespoon milk masala (optional)


powder the oats in a grinder till its fine. In a mixing bowl add the oats powder, flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom powder and milk masala and mix well.
In another mixing bowl, add the brown sugar, vegetable oil and eggs and mix/whisk well till the sugar dissolve. Now add the milk and mix well till its an integrated mixture.
Now add the dry ingredients and mix everything well till it becomes a nice and smooth cake batter.
Pour it into a greased cake container and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or till a toothpick inserted inside comes clean.
You can even bake muffins out of this. They would take about 15 to 20 minutes to bake.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ananas Bhat (Pineapple Rice)

I love pineapples. There is something about the aroma of this fruit that takes you to a tropical paradise. The sweet and sour notes that tingle your tastebuds and the pale yellow color. Well, I am sure you know that I am a huge pineapple fan.

The other day I had purchased this beautiful huge pineapple from the super-market. Nicely cored and cut into pieces, I savored this yummy fruit continuously for 2 days. My husband is allergic to pineapples and my kiddo is not a fan I guess.

The cut pineapple pieces were just lying in my fridge and I was wondering what to do with them. And, it dawned on me - why not make ananas bhat. My mom had made this once and I had loved it a lot. 


1 cup basmati rice
2 cups pineapple juice (I used fresh juice)
1 cup chopped pineapple pieces
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamoms
6 cloves
1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 cup of coconut powder (unsweetened)
3/4 cup sugar - if you want it a little more sweeter, you can add 1 cup sugar too
2 tablespoons milk masala
    you can use chopped nuts of your choice too
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder
4 to 5 drops of yellow food color (optional)
few strands of saffron (optional)


Wash the basmati rice well and let it soak in water for about an hour. In a saucepan, add half of the ghee. When it heats up, add the cloves, cinnamon and cardamom and let it infuse the ghee and bring the heat to medium low. Drain the rice and add it to the infused ghee and mix well. Add the pineapple juice, food color and saffron and cover and let it cook on medium low flame untill the rice is nice and fluffy - this will take about half hour. Fluff the cooked rice with a fork and add the pineapple pieces, coconut powder, sugar, milk masala (or chopped nuts), cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and the remaining ghee and mix well. Cover and let it cook on medium low flame for about 15 more minutes.
Savor it warm or at room temperature.

sending this to Preeti's Event - A fight against plagiarism. The event is also on Facebook at Fight against Plagiarism - FB - Do participate if you are against plagiarism of any kind.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Buttery Croissants - We Knead to Bake # 2

Croissants - well that word itself takes you on a beautiful buttery, flaky, aroma filled tasty journey into France. Well, atleast thats what it does for me and for my better half too.
We love croissants - but, then who doesn't???
I had never baked croissants before. You can say that the amount of butter thats goes into the preparation and then the consumption was what had scared me the most. Infact after getting to know how croissants are made, we had avoided these yummy treats - yup, its been over 5 years, we have savored these yummm treats only about twice a year, every year.
Ofcorse when Aparna mentioned in the facebook group that the bread we will be baking for the month of Feb is a buttery indulgence - somehow we all knew it was going to be a croissant. And yes indeed croissants it was.
After reading the recipe she posted and watching the amazing informative video - I was a bit intimidated with regards to the length of time needed to get the final crescent shaped pastry. She did mention we could give this month a pass if we did not want to use butter for health or any other reasons. I actually thought of letting it go this month. But, then the posts started pouring in and after looking at all the buttery and yummy goodness - I was tempted to make them too.
I am so glad I got over my fear of cooking with butter and making a pastry and flaky dough and made these beautiful looking treats. My almost 3 year old kiddo loved them the most - and thats like the most amazing appreciation anyone could ever ask for.

I adapted the recipe from girl vs dough. I just halved the recipe, as I was just trying it for the first time and was really not sure how it would turn out. Well, no complaints there - it turned out great. Do visit the site for all the steps - she has done a fabulous job.
I am taking the liberty to write the recipe kinda just like how Stephanie has written on her blog. However, the measurements are half as I used half of everything she mentioned.


3/4 cup warm whole or 2 percent milk (about 105-110 degrees F)
1/8 cup sugar
1 and 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled in the fridge
1 tablespoon milk for the wash over the croissants


In the bowl whisk together warm milk, sugar and yeast until yeast is dissolved. Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes untill it becomes nice and foamy. This shows that the yeast is working and its now ready.
Add 1 and 1/2 cups flour and salt to this yeasty mixture and mix well till it forms a nice and sticky dough. It should take about 8 to 10 minutes to get there.
You can do this by hand or use your stand mixer with the dough attachment to do it for you.
Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand for 2-3 minutes, adding more of the remaining flour as needed just until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticky. Shape dough into a 1 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Cover it lightly with flour, so that it does not stick to the plastic wrap you are going to wrap it in. Place in fridge 1 hour to chill.
While the dough is chilling, make the butter packet. Place sticks of butter together on a sheet of plastic wrap. Top with another sheet of plastic wrap - using a rolling pin and your hands, thwack, beat, roll out and press the butter into an even, flat, 4-by-2 and 1/2-inch rectangle (be as precise as possible). Wrap the butter up in the plastic wrap and place it in the fridge to chill.
Remove dough from fridge and from plastic wrap. Place on a lightly floured surface and press the dough into a 8-by-5-inch rectangle (be sure the edges and the corners are as well-shaped as possible) - Do this with a rolling pin and shape it with your fingers. Remove butter packet from fridge and from plastic wrap and place in center of dough, short ends of butter packet parallel to long ends of dough. Fold top half of dough over butter packet, then fold bottom half of dough over it like a business letter. Rotate dough so the short end faces you.
With the short end facing you, flatten the dough evenly by pressing the rolling pin onto the surface (try not to roll it out right away). When the dough has flattened, roll it out to a precise 7-by-5-inch rectangle. Fold the dough again like a business letter, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for 1 hour.
Repeat the above step (“With the short end facing you… chill for 1 hour”) three more times, chilling the dough for 1 hour between each fold, for a total of four folds. After the fourth fold, cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge overnight, or 8-12 hours.
The next morning, unwrap the dough and place it on a floured surface. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle about 10-by-16-inches. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 triangles. Cut a small slit at the bottom of each triangle and roll up like a crescent roll. For chocolate croissants, place 1/2 to 1 ounce of dark chocolate in the bottom center of the triangle before rolling up.
Place croissants about 2 inches apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Cover with tea towels and let rise until puffy, about 1-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Brush each croissant with milkwash and bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely on baking sheets before consuming.

Note: Croissants will keep fresh in a plastic bag or airtight container at room temperature for 3 days. For longer life, keep them in a plastic bag or airtight container in the fridge for 5 days, and in the freezer for up to 1 month. (These were notes from Stephanie)

I baked about 6 of those croissants. The balance I froze immediately after getting them into a crescent shape. When I want to bake them - I will just thaw them in the fridge for about 8 hours and then line them on a baking sheet and let them proof at room temperature for about 3 to 4 hours or till they get fluffed up. Bake them at 450 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes and savor them with jam, butter, tea or make a nice sandwich out of them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken - yummmmmmmm
I am sure everyone who is a lover of paneer and chicken would have never missed out on the butter paneer or the butter chicken meal with paratha.
It is a dish that you will find in every Indian restaurant menu. Its buttery, tangy, spicy and just yummy.
I have enjoyed amazing butter chicken at 'Urban Tadka' in Andheri in Mumbai, India - ofcorse this was almost seven years ago.
After moving to the US - we never liked the butter chicken served at the restaurants here. It seemed to be only a creamy curry with red color in it and with dry pieces of tandoori chicken which seemed bland.
Alas - had to try and make this stuff at home to enjoy the flavors.
This has been a regular at our home with paneer, chicken and even with mix veggies.


Marinade for chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts - cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup sour cream OR hung curd
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon tandoori masala
1 teaspo0n salt

For Gravy
1 inch cinnamon stick
2 green cardamoms
2 cloves
5 peppercorns
small piece of mace
3 large tomatoes
1 medium onion
7 ti 8 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger - juilined
1/4 cup buter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon tandoori masala
1 tablespoon kasuri methi (crushed)
salt to taste
chopped cilantro for garnishing


For tandoori chicken/chicken tikka
In a big bowl add tandoori masala, curry powder, ginger paste, garlic paste, sour cream and salt and mix well. Massage this mixtures onto the chicken pieces with your hands so that all the chicken is evenly covered in the tandoori masala. Cover and put aside for at least an hour (overnight is ideal).
Put them on a skewer and cook them in an oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit for about 15 to 20 minutes. you get nice cooked chicken tikka. Take them out of the skewer and let them sit covered.

For the Gravy
In a karahi add 1/8 cup of butter. When it melts add the cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom, mace and let it saute and emit a nice fragrance - be careful not to burn the spices. Take them out in a plate. In the same oil, add chopped garlic and chopped onions and fry/saute till they get a nice golden brown color. Add the kasuri methi and mix well till all the onion pieces are coated with kasuri methi. Now add the chopped tomatoes and mix well. Cover and let it cook for 10 minutes till the tomatoes get all mushy. Now add tandoori masala and salt to taste and let this mixture cool.
Once the masala mixture has cooled down - add the sauted spices and this mixture into a blender and mix to form a smooth paste. No need to add water as the tomatoes will be liquidy enough.
In the same karahi, add the balance 1/8 cup butter. When it gets hot, add the juliened ginger and saute for about 20 seconds. Now add the tomato and spice paste and mix well. Cover and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Now add the cooked chicken and mix well. Add the heavy cream and check salt. Garnish with cilantro and serve with hot nans, rotis or rice.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gatte ki Sabzi (gram flour dumplings in a yogurt sauce)

I still remember the first time I had seen this dish - it was on a TV documentary about a decade ago about 'Palace on Wheels' - yup, the luxury train launched by Indian Railways for tourism in Rajasthan. This dish was prepared to be served to passengers on the train - and the chef was kind enough to show us the preparation of this dish. The besan dumplings in the yogurt sauce looked yummy.
Well, I had forgotten all about this dish after that TV show - untill, my birthday lunch at 'Rajdhani' the restaurant at 'Inorbit Mall'. Had this stuff there and remembered 'Palace on wheels'.......... that reminds me............. Gotta take a trip on 'Palace on Wheels' - its one of the things on my bucket list 
My husband is not a huge fan of yogurt based curries. However, I do force him to eat this stuff by bribing him with a nice chicken or fish dish for the next meal - evil me!!! However, he did like this dish and enjoyed the gatte more then the curry.
Tried to recollect the recipe that I saw on the TV documentary and recreate it in my kitchen. 


For the Gatte

1 cup of Besan /Gram Flour
1/2 cup chopped fresh methi leaves OR 2 teaspoons kasuri methi
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 spoon Dhania Jeera powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
1/2 teaspoon ajwain/carom seeds
1 tablespoon oil
water to knead

For the Curry
2 cups yogurt
4 tablespoons besan/gram flour
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon dhania jeera powder
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida/hing
2 tablespoons kasuri methi
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 dried red chilis
2 tablespoons oil
salt to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish


For Gatte

Combine all the ingredients for the gatte - except the water. Mix well allowing the oil to mix evenly, it will look like a crumpled mixture. Now add water 1 teaspoon at a time to knead into a stiff dough which can be handled easily (it should not be sticky).
Divide the dough into 10 equal portions and make into ½ inch diameter smooth rolls. Heat a saucepan with enough water and let it boil. Add the rolls to the boiling water and let it cook. You know the gatte are done when they float to the top of the water.
Strain the water from the gatte and cut it into 1/2 inch pieces.
You can then fry them to a golden brown or spray some oil and put them in an oven at 400 degrees fahrenheit for about 15 minutes to get a nice golden crust. Let them sit aside.

For Curry

Add the besan, turmeric powder, chilli powder, dhania jeera powder, asafoetida and kasuri methi to the curd and whisk well so that there are no lumps. In a karahi add oil. When it gets hot add the mustard seeds and let them splutter, then add the cumin and the fennel seeds and the red chillis and let it fry for about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup of water and let it boil well till you can smell the cumin and fennel. Get the heat to a medium and add the yogurt mixture to the tempered water. Let it boil and cook till the gravy leaves oil. If the gravy seems too thick, you can add some water. Add the gatte to this gravy and salt to taste and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Let the gravy sit for about half hour before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with hot rice or rotis.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pull Apart Bread - flavored with long hot peppers and cilantro spread - We Knead to Bake # 1

Bread Baking is fun and addictive. Its therapeutic for me. And the beauty is husband and kiddo love the bread baked at home and we cannot seem to get enough of it. We rarely buy bread from the store. Store bought bread means there is something wrong with the oven at home or maybe the baker is sick :)
The aromas, the yeast, the waiting in anticipation for the dough to rise.......... all of these are what make baking bread fun. I have learnt and experimented various breads over the past couple of years. And I am still learning and experimenting.

Today morning I wake up and check Facebook and what do I see.......... loaves and loaves of pull apart breads. I was wondering how is it that everyone I know is baking a pull-apart bread. Well, the answer was in all the blog posts.......... it was for a project We Knead to Bake. I instantly wanted to be a part of this group and joined in the fun.
Aparna who authors at My Diverse Kitchen is the brains behind this project. Each month, Aparna chooses a bread recipe for the group to bake within that month and on the 24th the breads are posted on the various blogs and a link added to her post. I for one have never participated in any blog event or project ever. However, this is one project I would love to be part of and would love to participate.


For the Dough
1/2 cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons butter, soft at room temperature
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried rosemary - crushed
3/4 cup milk (+ a couple of tbsp to brush over the bread)

For the Filling
1 tablespoon melted butter
3 to 4 tablespoons of long hot pepper and cilantro spread
       recipe for the spread is here
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


You may use a food processor or a stand mixer - but you must knead the dough by hand to enjoy the aroma and to get some therapy too ;)
In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm milk. Keep aside for about 5 minutes till the yeast mixture bubbles up. This is called proofing of yeast.
Put 2 3/4 cup of flour, salt, softened butter, crushed rosemary and garlic powder in the food processor and pulse a couple of times to mix. Remove this into a large bowl and add the yeast mixture and the 3/4 cup of warmed milk and knead till you have a soft, smooth and elastic/ pliable dough which is not sticky. Add a little extra flour if your dough is sticking - 1 tablespoon at a time to get the right pliable feel.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it completely with oil. Cover and let it rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until almost double in volume.
Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Deflate the dough, shape it into a square and roll the dough out into a larger square that is about 12’ by 12”. Brush the surface of the square with the melted butter. Evenly spread the hot pepper and cilantro spread and sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese on top. Use a rolling pin to very lightly press the topping into the dough to ensure the topping doesn’t fall off when you are stacking the strips.
Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough from top to bottom into 6 long and even strips – they do not have to be perfect. Lay each strip on top of the next, with the topping facing upwards, until you have a stack of the strips. You can put the 2 strips cut from the sides in the middle of the stack so it looks neater. Using a pastry scraper or a sharp knife, cut straight down through the stack dividing it into 6 equal pieces (6 square stacks).
Grease and lightly flour a 9” by 5" loaf tin. Layer the square slices, cut sides down into the loaf tin
Cover the loaf tin dough with a towel and allow the dough to rise for an hour. Lightly brush some milk over the top of the loaf. Bake the dough at 180C (350F) for about 30 to 40 minutes until it is done and the top is golden brown.

The steps for cutting the dough and layering them is very well illustrated here

Click to see a collection the various pull-apart breads
created for this project
This bread has also been submitted to YeastSpotting!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sweet Pongal - with rice, quinoa and moong daal

I love sweet pongal - also called sakkarai pongal or chakkari pongal. The velvety mixture sweetened with jaggery and smelling so yumm of ghee (clarified butter), powdered cardamom and nutmeg. 
I visit the local Balaji Temple near home - they have a canteen inside the temple and the pongal there is just divine. I love the pongal and the boondi laddoos they serve there. 
I had made pongal last year during sankranti and it was a little seet for my liking - I guess the jaggery used was a bit too much.
This year I tried my hand at this sweet treat again during Sankranti. I used rice, moong dal and quinoa along with jaggery and ghee to make this. Turned out pretty well.


1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup of rice ( I used a mix of surti kolam and ambemohur)
1 cup moong dhal
1 cup jaggery
1/2 cup milk
41/2 cups water
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 cup broken cashews
1/4 cup raisins
a pinch of edible camphor (optional)


Add 1 teaspoon ghee in a frying pan and to this add the moong dal. Roast it on medium flame till the dal turns a golden color and becomes fragrant. Get it off the flame and add this dal to a pressure cooker/pan. Wash the rice and quinoa together. Drain all the water and add this to the moong dal in the pressure cooker/pan. Add 4 cups of water and let it cook for upto 3 whistles. After the pressure is released mash this mixture with the back of a spoon and let it sit aside.
In a saucepan add the jaggery and 1/2 cup water and let the jaggery completely dissolve. To this add the cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and if you are using edible camphor, add that as well. Sieve this mixture and add it to the rice quinoa and dal mixture in the cooker/pan
In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee and roast cashews to golden and add raisins to it and let them puff up. Add this mixture to the rice, quinoa and dal mixture in the pressure cooker/pan.
Add the milk and the remaining ghee and mix well on medium low heat. Keep stirring all the while. Once the pongal gets a velvety texture and it starts to release steam (kinda like boiling), get it off the heat. Pour it into a serving bowl and serve hot, warm or at room temperature

you can make this pongal by replacing the quinoa with broken wheat, brown rice or rolled oats. You can even skip the white rice and replace it with either quinoa, broken wheat, rolled oats or brown rice altogether.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mirchicha Thecha / Kharda (Long hot peppers and Cilantro spread)

Kharda or Mirchicha Thecha - Mom used to make this stuff on a regular basis back home. We loved to spread this on toast with some butter or a slice of cheese and it would be yummy breakfast. We also used it as an accompaniment with plain dal and rice or curd and rice instead of pickle. It also serves as a spicy chutney with parathas or chappati.
Mom had made this at our home here too when we had found those super hot long chillies at the local Asian store. My husband loved it so much that it has become a regular stuff at our place now. This stays for over a fortnight in an dry jar inside the refrigerator. 
The other day we had gone to the Indian store to get the regular rice, dal, masalas etc. I found these beautiful green garlic also called as garlic chives and thought of making this kharda using the green garlic instead of the regular garlic and the taste is just different and nice from the regular kharda


15 long hot peppers (chillies) - cut into 1 inch pieces
you can use jalapenos too - bring the count down to 10 if using jalapenos
1 cup green garlic - chopped OR 1/2 cup of normal garlic sliced
1 cup fresh coriander/cilantro - chopped (use the leaves as well as the stalks)
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon salt (you can add more according to your taste)


In a karahi add the oil and let it heat untill its comes to being smoking hot. Reduce the heat to a medium high and add the chillies, garlic and cilantro and cover. After 2 minutes, open the lid and mix everything well. We want all traces of water to be evaporated from the chillies, garlic and the cilantro - this would take about 15 minutes. Add salt and mix well. Get it off the heat and let it cool.
Add this mixture into a dry blender and blend into a smooth mixture or pulse it to get a chunky mixture - as per your preference.
Store in a dry and airtight glass or plastic jar and refrigerate.

Kerala Vegetable Stew

We love having appam with chicken xacuti, mutton curry and egg masala. However, the dish that actually goes along with appam is the amazing and yummy vegetable stew cooked in coconut milk. Its velvety and tasty and the appams just soak up all the coconut milk and you get this divine taste.
Well, I had some leftover appam batter and there was no mutton curry left to lap it up with. Decided to give this vegetable stew a try. It turned out awesome and now this stew is among the other yummies that we are gonna be having at our home with appams 


1 medium onion - thinly sliced
1 inch ginger - julienne
2 medium sized potatoes - cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 carrots - cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup of peas
1 cup green beans - cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 green chillies - slit lenghtwise
10 to 12 curry leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves
2 cardamoms
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon coconut oil - or any other oil of your choice
1 can coconut milk (unsweet)
salt to taste


In a saucepan add the coconut oil. When it gets hot add the cloves, cardamom, black pepper and cinnamon and let it simmer on medium flame till they release their aroma. Now add the curry leaves and the green chillies and let it splutter for a few second. Add the sliced onions and the julienne ginger and mix well on medium high heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and saute this mixture till the onions become transparent. Now add the potatoes, carrots and green beans along with the turmeric and 1/4 cup of water and let the vegetables cook half way. Bring the heat to medium and add the peas and the coconut milk along with salt to taste and let the mixture boil. When it comes to a boil, bring the heat down to a medium low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Check if all the veggies are cooked, if not, let the mixture simmer for another 10 minutes.
serve it with appams or even with steamed white rice.

Gul Poli

The very first Hindu festival in January is Sankranti - also called Pongal, Lohri, Bihu and many other names in various regions around India and also in South East Asia. 
For me Sankranti is always associated with sesame seeds and jaggery - called til & gul respectively in Marathi. The aroma of toasted sesame seeds and then those yummy laddoos.
My Mom always made this gul poli on that day - ofcosre along with various other goodies.
I had to make these gul polis this year. I could not call mom to ask for the recipe as it was pretty late in the night for them and I knew they would be asleep. So, I used my sense of smell and taste and tried to use the proportions just like you would for puran poli and made these polis. They did not turn out like the ones made by mom - but, they were still good. 


For the filling
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup peanuts
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (khuskhus)
2 tablespoons gram flour (besan)
2 cups jaggery
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For Dough
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil
water to knead


Toast the sesame seeds on medium flame untill you get a nice roasted aroma. Remove on a plate and let it cool. Now toast the peanuts untill you get a nice toasted aroma. Remove any skin on them and let them cool on a plate. Dry roast the gram flour and the poppy seeds for a couple of minutes - be careful not to burn the gram flour. Grind the peanuts, sesame seeds, gram flour and poppy seeds to a fine powder/paste - no need to add water, the oil from the peanuts and the sesame will give it a pasty texture. Remove it into a mixing bowl and add the jaggery and the cardamom powder and nut met powder and mix well. Make about 10 equal sized balls from this mixture.
Mix wheat flour, all purpose flour and salt to taste. Heat the oil in a pan and add it to the flour mixture and carefully mix the oil with the flour - this can be done with a spoon - be careful as the oil i shot. Now add water - start with half a cup of water and knead the flour into a dough. Add more water if required. Consistency of dough should be soft like a regular chapati dough.  Cover the dough with a damp cloth/kitchen tissue and let it sit for 30 minutes. After it has rested, make 10 equal sized balls of the dough and keep aside.

Take one of flour dough rolls and apply dry wheat flour (so that it does not stick to the rolling pin) and roll out into a round about 2 inches in diameter. Add a part of the stuffing to this rolled dough and bring together all the edges so as to cover the filling. press this lightly so that the stuffing goes to all the ends. Now dip it in the dry wheat flour and roll lightly just like a stuffed paratha/chappati - about 6 inches in diameter. Roast on a skillet on medium heat by adding a bit of ghee - turning it a couple of times. The poli is ready when it had nice golden spots on both sides.
Serve this gul poli warm or cold with or without ghee.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...