Pistachio Cake with orange zest and spices


Pistachio cake

I love baking with fruits and nuts. It gives a very distinct colour and flavour to cakes and other baked goodies. For instance this Pistachio cake with orange zest. The nuttiness of pistachios with the aroma and the kick of the orange zest is mesmerising. A little bit of cardamom powder and a hint of cloves intensify the pistachio taste in the cake.

I baked this cake and sent it to my friend as a birthday gift, some 350 kms away by courier. And it stayed moist and delicious for 2 days and survived the travel well. Of course there was no frosting, it was a beautiful and delicious naked cake.

Pistachio Cake with Chantilly cream

Recipe taken from Epicurious

Makes one 8/9 inch cake

What you will need :

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 3/4 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 110 grams butter at room temperature (I use Amul salted butter)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2-3 cloves softened in 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon orange zest (from about 3 oranges)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • powdered pistachios for garnishing

What to do :

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon water and immerse 2-3 cloves in it. Keep it aside for 5-10 minutes till the cloves let out the aroma into the water.
  2. Pulse pistachios in a mixer and sieve it to remove any clumps. Pulse the clumps with a little bit of powdered sugar to avoid the pistachios from becoming oily.
  3. Mix flour, baking powder and cardamom powder in a bowl. Add pistachio powder to it and mix well.
  4. In another bowl – cream butter and sugar till light and pale. Add eggs one at a time and incorporate well.
  5. Discard the cloves and add the water to the egg mixture. Add vanilla and stir.
  6. Add the orange zest and whisk.
  7. Now alternately add the milk and dry ingredients to the egg mixture and fold in well, till there are no lumps of flour.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 180C.
  9. Line a 8/9 inch round baking pan with parchment paper at the bottom and butter the sides.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes till a skewer inseted in the centre comes out clean.
  11. Let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning it over on a wire rack.
  12. Meanwhile, beat the whipping cream till it forms soft peaks. Add powdered sugar and whisk till stiff peaks are formed.
  13. Once the cake is cooled completely, spread it with the whipped cream and drizzle with some powdered pistachios.
  14. Serve at room temperature.

Pistachio cake with cream

Notes :

  1. This cake without the frosting stays well at room temperature for 2-3 days.
  2. If you want a bigger cake, this recipe can be easily doubled and made into a stacked layer cake.
  3. You can omit the clove water and replace it with some rum.

Mint and Pepper Butter Chicken

Mint and pepper butter chicken

I have often heard people lament about the fact that chicken breasts are the least flavourful of them all. But I was a vegetarian before I got married about 4 years back and though we love some really good tangdi kebabs, we prefer the boneless breasts when cooking at home. So I have a collection of very easy to make yet delicious boneless chicken breast recipes for everyday cooking. And they don’t need a lot of marination time. Just half hour of marinating it in some spices or lemon or curd and they are ready to be cooked.

This today is a house favourite over the last few months. Mint and Pepper Cream chicken. I have adapted it from the TheShirazine.com. The original recipe does not have pudina or mint leaves in it, but I love the of zing of mint leaves in fresh cream based gravies.

Mint and Pepper Butter Chicken

What you will need :

  • 400 grams boneless chicken breasts cut into 2 inch or so pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more as per taste)
  • 3 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder, freshly ground
  • 2-3 tablespoon mint leaves (pudina), crushed + few for garnishing
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12-15 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh cream + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup milk

What to do :

  1. Marinate the chicken breasts in soy sauce, salt, pepper and chilli powder and mint leavesfor about 30 minutes
  2. In a pan or kadhai, heat some olive oil, fry the chopped garlic till translucent. Add the chicken pieces and cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes till 80% cooked.
  3. Then add the cream, water and milk and mix well. Check taste and add more salt if required. Cover it and let it cook further for 5-6 minutes on medium heat till chicken is fully cooked and the sauce begins to thicken.
  4. Serve hot with bhakri or rotis.

Pepper and cream chicken

My breastfeeding journey- not an easy beginning.

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It is international breastfeeding week. And this is my story as published in WomensWeb.in

A mother talks about her complications in the first month of breastfeeding. First-time mothers, this is for you.

I clearly remember the first month after my baby boy was born. He used to cry so much. We tried everything to soothe him: rock him, swaddle, sing, hold him close, whisper in his ears, but nothing worked. Then a week after coming back from the hospital, when he was about 10 days old we took him back to the paediatrician. My little baby boy had lost more than 10% weight. Doctor was worried. Asked me to nurse him more often and come back in a week.

As you can imagine, I was shattered. I breastfed him since the day he was born. I had a normal vaginal delivery and colostrum started coming in soon. Plus, I had read all about breastfeeding, had attended classes, knew the different kinds of feeding positions – the football hold, the cradle hold etc. I am a considerably healthy person and had a non-complicated pregnancy. I was all ready to have the baby and breastfeed him. Little did I think that the baby is not getting sufficient milk and is almost starving and hence cries all the time. I used to sit nursing the baby for several hours a day. Almost 2 hours at a time with an interval of an hour or two. Either the milk supply was low or the baby had difficulty latching on and sucking. Or both.

I used to express and my mom used to feed him with a spoon. My baby started getting happier.

Then we started feeding him expressed milk. I used to express and my mom used to feed him with a spoon. My baby started getting happier. Cried less. His weight started increasing. But he steadily refused the breast and preferred expressed milk. My breasts hurt from the pumping pressure. My body ached and my heart hurt the most. Little baby did not want to be on my breast. That crushed me.

But the doctor kept on insisting to directly nurse him on the breast. I saw a lactation consultant and she said everything seems to be alright, just have patience. So I continued taking the baby to the breast each time he was hungry before giving him expressed milk. For a whole month, I struggled with it. Once or twice we even gave him formula and that made me cry. Slowly, I started thinking maybe giving him expressed milk is the only option we have. But I missed breastfeeding. I missed my baby. I did not feel connected to him.

And then when he turned a month old, like a switch he shifted to full breastfeeding. No more expressed milk. He would turn his head around if I tried to feed him with a spoon. It still used to take a long time to nurse, an hour and more, but I was very happy. I could hold my baby close, snuggle him when he was feeding. It felt magical. We did something which only we could do. Since then we are happy campers. Slowly it took less time for each feed. Two hours reduced to an hour then half hour and now he is done feeding in ten minutes.

Last month baby and I completed six months of exclusive breastfeeding.

Last month baby and I completed six months of exclusive breastfeeding. I started working after he completed 3 months, but since my workplace is close-by, I used to come home to feed him. We took the baby to Jaipur a month back and I nursed him everywhere, the City Palace, Amer fort, at the airports, in taxis, everywhere. Life was so much easier as there were no bottles, formula, sterilisation, none of that.

Our breastfeeding journey did have a lot of initial problems, that whole first month was nightmarish. Several times I thought maybe I should start on formula, my milk supply is low. But then as I spoke to a lot of new moms, my friends and their friends. I realised that the first month is the toughest. And I am in no way advocating that formula is bad, but just that breastfeeding is so much easier. For you. Just take the baby and nurse away all  the tiredness, vaccination crankiness, and any other woes. Mothers’ milk works wonders because it is specifically made by you for your baby. And how beautiful it feels to see an overstimulated baby calm down at your breast.

So all new mommas out there, even if it breastfeeding seems tedious initially, do not quit breastfeeding in the first month. Hold on, it is the most beautiful gift you can give your child and to yourself. It gets easier, I promise.