Monday, December 15, 2014

Soya Spring Onion Pulav

There is this wonderful thing about food... it always brings back the lovely memories that are attached to it. I have some fond memories attached to a lot of food and everytime I happen to enjoy that particular food, those memories come flooding in. 

So, today I am taking you back in time to my college days with this simple and flavourful rice preparation.

College days are one of those best days for most of us. Those care-free days of fun laughter and friendship and a little studies in between ;) I had my own little group of friends and we made sure our years together was simply awesome! Oh, and the lunch hour was our favourite! :)

We would sit together in our benches and inspect each other's boxes. Yes, our own lunches were savoured, but what interested each of us was what was in the other's boxes! :) We each had a favourite from each other's mom's cooking and we would get all excited when we saw that in their lunch box! One of my friend's mum used to make this absolutely yummy rice preparation that had soya and spring onions in it. We simply could not guess that wonderful spice-flavour that went in to. After much guessing, she revealed that the magic masala was sambar powder!! 

It intrigued me and I have tried recreating it at home for my mum. Yes, I was fond of cooking even back then and did occasional visits to the kitchen :D So, my version was very close to my friend's mum's and my mum happened to like it too! She has hence made me make this for her and has been our favourite for a long time now. 

All along I have used the regular soya chunks that you find in the market. I would soak them into water and then after draining out the water, would finely chop them. Recently I bumped into adorable little soya granules that were shaped into teeny tiny little balls. They could be used as a whole and need not be chopped. The rice looks pretty with these little soya balls peeking from the gaps.

Try this simple recipe and enjoy the unique blend of flavours dance in your taste buds :) 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Orange And Pistachio Cake [Eggless]

Hello there! :) I am back from yet another hiatus! :) Hoping the momentum continues for a while! 

I have been away from my little bloggie world for a while now and it feels like forever! It was just another phase where I just couldn't get myself to sit and create a post. I have been cooking, baking and clicking pics. And have quite a few drafts too, but the part of drafting out the post and publishing it... well, that didn't happen for some reason. Just another blog-slump phase. But, now that am back, I hope to be around :)

So, a few weeks back I had to... HAD to make an orange cake and I had to.. HAD to use damerara (brown) sugar in it. 

Hmmm...why you ask? Oh well, because my craving said so! Ah, for those of you who haven't met my ever so weird and impromptu craving... here are some of the dishes that my craving and me came up with: Spinach and Mushroom Pasta, Soya Potato Patties, Eggless Chocolate Walnut Cake!

Yup, we make a great pair, my craving and me!! :P

This was the first time I used brown sugar and I was pretty satisfied with the outcome. The taste and smell of this sugar is different from the regular white refined sugar. But the interesting texture it gave to the cake, I simply loved! I am definitely experimenting more with brown sugar cakes... for now, enjoy this simple, flavourful orange pistachio cake :)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Nan's Yum-yums! Bread Bakers - a bread baking workshop (July 2014)


Ever since Junior Bakers happened, where I experienced the joy of spreading the love for baking, I couldn't wait to do it again! This time, I wanted to let those apprehensive bread lovers, that baking your own bread at home is far less daunting than most think it is and in fact it is actually therapeutic! 

So, the agenda for my second workshop was purely on breads. A lovely bunch of 5 ladies came in along with their kids, some who baked along with their mommies, while some participated as individual bakers! It always amuses me how the baking bug can bite even tiny little tots... :)

It was a wonderful 4 hours during which we learnt the basics about yeast, with loads of tips and tricks which I felt would help these bakers while they begin their baking experiments back home. Then, we baked 3 variations of breads - Herb and Cheese Pull-apart bread, which was a crowd pleaser and a favourite amongst the kiddies, Cinnamon Hearts, Pizza Stuffed Buns. 

Each of the participants baked all these goodies and took them back home with a lot of pride and loads of smiles. :) Their boxes of goodies looks absolutely great and my heart swelled with pride and joy for them :)

An interesting aspect of this workshop was that a few participants came in with special requirements which we could blend into our workshop and meet each of their needs. 

The garlic bread was a special request by one of the little bakers, who happens to be a huge fan of the Domino's Garlic Bread Sticks. So his mommy wanted to learn how to bake that foe him. And so, we baked a Garlic Bread Stick as well.

Another participant had specially requested to bake only with wholewheat and so all her baked were made of only wheat flour. And then another mommy, wanted to learn how to bake a simple wholewheat bread loaf and we did that too, as a group.

And then the best part of the workshop... was the lovely lovely feedback that they left for me! These beautiful words from my baking students, made me happy and feel that it was all worth it!! :) Thank you all! :)

Some of the participants, have hence begun baking at home and have shared some beautiful pictures of their bread creations. I am happy to have been able to help them discover the bakers in them! :)

More pictures!! Hop over and check out the Bread Bakers photo album to relive those memories and be a part of our fun through the pictures :)

Do such workshops interest you?

Stay tuned to my updates on my Facebook page for future workshops.


Drop me an e-mail to discuss your requirements. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Butterflaps | Guyanese Butter Flaps

Baking is therapeutic. I have heard this so many times before I started baking and used to wonder what really did that mean? And now, I say it myself... baking is indeed therapeutic! 

There is something magically peaceful about working with the flours, yeast and marrying them into a bread dough. Kneading it with love and patiently waiting till it proofs and rises. And then, shaping the dough into fancy shapes, and stuffing it with lovely fillings or topping the dough with delicious ingredients... oh the options are endless! 

And every single time, the resultant bread comes out of the oven bringing along with itself a sense of joy and fulfillment. Yes, even now... it makes me grin from ear-to-ear every time I pull out a perfectly baked bread from the oven! :) 

I look for new bread recipes and ideas. By now you would have guessed, I like my recipes to be simple and easy to create... and this gorgeous beauty, the Guyanese Butterflaps, fit the criteria perfectly! I saw them at my dear friend, Namita's space and I knew what love at first sight felt like :)

I simply had to make them! And I did make them... that same night :)

Its a traditional bread of the Guyana. Its simply, bread dough smeared with buttered, folded and baked. The pretty shape that the folds give it look like flaps and hence the name... Butterflaps! This version has some garlic and some dry-herbs seasonings.

I loved everything about this bread - the preparation, the taste and that cute name! :) Try it and join the fan club :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Methi Paneer Pulav | Fenugreek Leaves and Cottage Cheese Pilaf

Lately I have been pumping up the usage off fenugreek leaves in my diet. I did not have a huge liking for it early, at the same time did not detest it either... But lately, I have started loving it! I get experimental and dish out new variations using these healthy greens. I am also delighted at how inexpensive they are, in my local market here. We get a good fat bunch for less than five rupees... giving me all the more reasons to cook with them more often!

Paneer is another family favourite and also a versatile ingredient that participates in my kitchen experiments frequently :) This time, I decided to pair these two and make a one bowl meal for my work-day lunch! I love mixed rice preparations. No hassle of a side dish and main dish - just a one bowl dish with either a bowl of raita, some chips or just yummilicously plain as it is! This recipe is aboslutely easy and quick to make. Perfect for those hurried lunch days! :)

I have also been wanting to try the Garam Masala powder that I received from ASA, as part of our goodies bags at the Indian Food Bloggers Meets, in August. The smell was absolutely captivating and I was sure it would take my humble recipe to a all new foodie pedestal... and it sure did!! The aroma and taste that it imparted to the simple dish was pure deliciousness. Another brand of Garam Masala would work too for this recipe, but since I had this wonderful spice mix in hand, I simply had to use it!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mushroom, Brocolli and Bell Peppers in Garlic Sauce | Indo-Chinese Gravy

This recipe post has been in my drafts for over a year! I have no clue why this hasn't seen the day light yet! So, without further delay, I am posting this right now! 

I love Chinese cuisine. The Indo-Chinese version appeals to me even more. When I saw this on Shweta's blog, I wanted to try it! I wanted a more gravy kind of a side-dish and hence made a thicker gravy.

It was simple to make and I absolutely loved the flavour. 

 I love it when my veggies are crunchy and just done. Over-cooked broccolis or capsicums are a big turn off for me. So if you are like me, ensure you keep them just right as the flavours of such crunchy veggies go really well in this dish. Serve it with fried rice, or simple team it with plain rice. Either way, its yum! 

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pizza Minis | Personalized Baby Pizzas

It was just a 'pizza-kind-of-a-day'!!  

You know that feeling when you are somewhere in the mid day and a bell rings in your head and a sign board seems to be flashing right in front of you with the menu for dinner written in bold font! Yeah... some days are just like that for me, while there are some days when I would have to dig deep into my brains to settle on a menu! Well, lets forget those difficult days and talk about the fun days when the menu just calls out to you loud and clear :)

Oh, I love such days! :)

Last week I guess Thursday or so was one such lovely day when the food-indicators in my brain sent me pizza signals... I had to obey! So, homemade pizzas it was for dinner! 

How delighted I was. My dinner was sorted, and I was still at work!! Why can't such days visit more often, I wonder :)

As soon as the clock struck 6, I rushed home and began work on my dough. Oh, I did not want to waste a second! I used my trusted wholewheat pizza base recipe and made a dough ball. While it sat proofing, I began planning on the topping... I simply couldn't settle for one! That was when the idea of making Pizza Minis struck me!

I decided to make tiny little bases and top each with toppings of my choice. Absolutely personalized baby pizzas. One had extra spice, while another had more capsicum, one had loads of sweet corn while one had extra sauce! It was exciting making these cute little guys. 

The husband was equally delighted when he came home to a plateful of these cuties, each with a personality of its own! :) Enjoy them as a lovely meal at home, or treat your friends and family at your next get-together. These little ones are sure a crowd pleaser... :)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Coffee Almond Cake [Egg-less]

Now, when there are back-to-back birthdays in the family, there ought to be back-to-back cake posts here right? :) So, here I am with my second cake recipe that I created for a birthday... this time mine! :D Yeah, a week after my Grandpa's 100th year celebrations, it was my turn to celebrate my birthday! 

I always get excited when my birthday arrives. I don't know what it is about birthdays but I love it when they come by. I am not a party person, so no major plans or parties or any of that sort. I just like feeling special and happy about that day being my very own special day amongst rest of the days of the year! :) 

And what is a birthday without a cake, right? 

In the last few years, ever since I began baking, I have baked cakes for my parent's anniversary, brother's, sis-in-law's, hubby's and mother-in-law' birthdays and more recently a special Zebra cake for my Grandpa too. I realized, I hadn't baked a cake specially for myself yet! As I said, birthdays are special to me and I believe in celebrating it in my own simple way. Oh, I am not talking birthday pastries here. My forte is egg-less tea cakes and I love experimenting with various combinations and seasonings. No icing, no cream. 

I wanted to bake the cake on the previous day to my birthday and I had the final look of the cake ready in my head while at office that day! I simply could not wait to get home and begin baking! Haha, these baking urges I tell you!! :D

So, what cake did I want? I had various options swaying in my head. But coffee and almond kept dancing in my head until I simply had to surrender and allow them to be the core flavouring agents in my cake! So, Coffee Almond Cake it was :)

The batter was delicious! Yes, I licked the last bit left after filling in the cuppies!! Tee heee :P 

The smell was divine! This is one of the most fragrant cakes I have baked till now. The home was filled with the beautiful smell of coffee, while these little guys baked away in the oven. And the next day, when I opened the box in which I stored the cup cakes, we were welcomed with a whiff of that lovely coffee flavour again! So, if you are a coffee lover... you just do not want to miss this one! :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Choco-Vanilla Zebra Cake [Egg-less] | Birthday cake for my Grandpa's 100th year!!

My grandpa entered his 100th year on Saturday, the 23rd of August. Yes, his centenary year!! At the age of 99, Abu (that is 'Grandpa' in Konkani) is one of the fittest persons I know! He walks around, with the help of a walker, he reads the newspaper, watches television and keeps himself abreast with the latest happenings. He can strike a conversation with just about any generation and keep it going!

Ever smiling and living life to the fullest, my grandpa is a jovial person. Having had a successful career life, a hugely generous heart and a determination like I have not seen in anyone else, my grandpa is definitely an inspiration to anyone who meets him.

Disclaimer: This is going to be a long post with pictures overload!! :)

So as a celebration of his centenary year, our family decided to throw him birthday bash. It is not everyday that you have someone reach a 100 and that too in such a fine health condition! It does call for celebrations, right? :) Though, he was aware of the get-together being planned, we kept him away from several little surprises we had thought up for him. I made a picture collage with photographs of all his kids and grand kids with him, we made a scrapbook with wishes from near and dear ones and.... I baked this zebra cake for him!! 

Before we jump into the recipe, let me fill you in on the other surprises and the party. Here is a sneak peek at the scrapbook that we put together for him......and the poem that I had penned in his scrapbook of wishes.

Those moments…
When you threw me into the air,
And caught me, as I squealed in childish glee.
When you bounced me on your legs,
As I giggled, till it tickled my belly.
When you lauded me,
For my achievements, however big or small.
When you motivated me,
To reach for the stars, and give it my all.
I shall treasure these and many more,
As my fondest memories with you.
Blessed… I feel,
To have grown up with a Grandpa like you!

Abu, you are inspiration personified,
Living life to the fullest… everyday, you show us how!
As you majestically stride into the big 100,
I wish you abundance of laughter, happiness and love!

Happy Birthday dear Abu! J

My heart was full of joy when I penned those lovely memories of growing up with a Grandpa like him and I was only too glad I was able to put those feeling in words for him. 

I always wanted to bake him a cake for his birthday. Considering the fact that this was going to be the first cake I baked, that he was going to taste, I wanted it to be special. Considering his age, I had to keep the cake simple. Suited me just fine, since simple cake are just my kind of cakes! I had to refrain from adding in nuts, in order to make it easy for him to eat it. Also, not being a huge fan of icing and more importantly, having to carry the cake from Bangalore where I live to Chennai, where my Grandpa stays, I couldn't think of carrying a cake with icing! So sponge cake it was. But no ordinary one.. something pretty and special to suit the occasion.

After sorting through several options in my head, I finally settled for this Zebra cake which I was meaning to try for a long time. I have a trusted Vanilla cake recipe and a Chocolate cake recipe. Both egg-less. So I just put together the two and made a Zebra cake, all the while keeping my fingers crossed, as this was the first time am attempting this type of a cake! Well, it does need a little care, to get the layers perfect. And I am proud of my first attempt at it! :)

Now, not making a cake with icing posed a problem. How am I decorate it? I had to write 'Happy Birthday' somewhere!! Well, so that was when the thought of making a pretty little paper banner pinned to skewers came to my mind. I have seen these on the Internet earlier and felt it was time I tried my hands at it! 

Grandpa was delighted when he saw this and was even more so when I told him I made it!!! How proud he was of me, that he told everyone that I baked a cake for him. Aww, some feelings cannot be put into words! When he blew the candle and sliced into the cake, my heart skipped a beat in anticipation of how the swirls turned out.... and they were beautifully perfect!!! Oh my... was I delighted by the way it turned out!! :) I was grinning ear to ear by the way the final look of the cake came together... I certify this as my best cake till date!!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Stir-fry Veggie Noodles with Soya-Honey-Peanut Dressing

Oh, I LOVE roasted peanuts.  

I like to snack on them plain or also love it when they are added into a dish. They bring along a whole new dimension to the dish that they are added into. Be it a simple Poha, Vermicelli upma or Sabudana Vadas... the crunchiness of peanuts enhances the dish many levels. And Snickers! Oh, that is a my favourite chocolate, again for the crunchy peanuts that it contains. 

Apparently the people of Thailand also love peanuts. Peanuts is a common ingredient in Thai cuisine and it also happens to be a cuisine I love!

I am yet to try the Thai Peanut Noodles prepared the authentic way. I guess there are a lot more elements to it and more prep time. But when I come across a quick-fix recipe for any dish, that would be my choice! So today, we will be making a dish that has hints of Thai flavours in it, a dish that is very simple to put together and one that is absolutely YUM!

I was out shopping today and returned home well past 2 in the afternoon. Being home alone and having only my tummy to feed, I decided to get experimental. But the tummy was hungry and I did not have too much time to invest in cooking. I decided to try my hands at this recipe that I came across the other day. Oh, it turned out to be totally delicious. This recipe gets done in a jiffy! 

This was the first time I was pairing peanuts with noodles and I absolutely loved the crunchiness it gave to the dish. The awesomely simple yet flavourful dressing is the taste giver here. 

So this noodles is a lovely combination of delicate flavours intricately woven together and blended with the crunchy veggies, noodles and peanuts... ah, food heaven! :)