Simple Eggless Bread Loaf with cheese and pepper

I think I got my bread baking mojo back. After a hiatus of 3 years, I am back in the game.

Pepper Cheese loaf cut

Baking bread is a time consuming affair and slightly complicated than just throwing in a few ingredients like we do while baking a cake. First it starts with buying or finding the right kind of yeast. Then adapting a recipe to the type of yeast you have, blooming of the yeast, mixing, kneading and first rise, shaping, the second rise and finally baking. So a simple loaf can take anywhere upto 5 hours from start to finish. When my baby was little, I couldn’t guarantee the loaf that I would come to shape it after its first rise, or I would be able to knead it for 5-10 mins without the baby requiring me on an urgent basis (with babies, it’s always very urgent). But now that he is over two, I am beginning to enjoy baking bread again. Its euphoric to see it rise. It is instinctive, scientific and artistic all in one go.

This here today is a simple loaf with cheese and some spices. I baked it twice on the weekend (it was that good), once with cheese and crushed black pepper and the second time with more cheese and a pizza spice mixture which I had at home – very similar to those Oregano spice packets which come with Dominoes Pizza. Its a fool-proof recipe, just follow the steps and the notes to bake your own bread.

This recipe is from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger is adapted to suit Indian flour and humidity conditions.

Whole loaf of pepper cheese bread

 

Eggless Bread Loaf with cheese and pepper

What you will need :

  • 2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 300 grams all purpose flour (maida)
  • 50 grams whole wheat flour (aatta)
  • 2 grams bread improver (see notes)
  • 90 grams freshly shredded processed Cheddar (I used Amul)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper or any other spice mixture (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • 4 tablespoon butter (I use Amul salted)
  • 3/4 cup cool water
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I used Tabasco)

What to do :

  1. In a big cup or a glass, warm 1/3 cup of water. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over this water and gently stir it. Keep it in the corner of your kitchen platform till it becomes foamy, about 10-15 mins.
  2. Meanwhile, in a big bowl, combine whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, bread improver, pepper and salt. Mix it with a whisk to ensure that bread improver is evenly incorporated.
  3. Add 4 tablespoons butter to this flour mixture.
  4. After the yeast mixture has become foamy, stir it with a spoon, and add the 3/4 cup cool water to it. Add the hot sauce to this mixture.
  5. Now with the dough hooks of a electric beater beating, add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture in a steady stream so that it all starts coming together to form a sticky soft dough.
  6. After the dough forms a soft elastic ball that clears the sides of the bowl, add the cheese and beat it for another minute so that all the cheese gets incorporated in it. If the dough is too sticky, add some more flour by a tablespoon , if the dough is too dry, add a teaspoon of water. (See notes)
  7. Using a plastic dough scraper, transfer the dough onto a smooth floured surface. Knead it slightly with the plastic scraper. It will still be an extremely sticky dough, just keep flouring the surface and keep bringing the dough together with the scraper.
  8. Grease a big bowl with olive oil or butter and put the dough ball in it. Turn it once to grease all sides of the dough.
  9. Cover it with a plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature till it doubles in bulk, about one hour.
  10. Grease a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with butter.
  11. Turn out the dough onto a clean floured surface. Shape it into an oblong loaf and place it in the prepared pan. Cover it loosely with a plastic wrap. Let it rise again at room temperature until it reaches 1 inch above the top of the pan. Around 1 and 1/2 hours.
  12. Twenty minutes before baking, pre-heat oven to 170C. Using a sharp knife slash the loaf one-three times diagonal across top,  no more than 1/2 inch deep.
  13. Place the pan on a rack in the centre (or bottom rack – see notes ) of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes till it is lightly browned and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped with your finger.
  14. Transfer the loaf from the pan to a cooling rack. Let it cool before slicing.

Kneading and shaping the dough

Notes :

  • Adding bread improver to a bread recipe is optional, but I have found that since bread flour is not available in India, and there is no standardised flour type, it is better to add bread improver. Approximately 0.01% of the quantity of the flour and the results are remarkable. To know where to buy it, check this.
  • Pepper is a strong spice so 1 and 1/2 teaspoon is sufficient. If you are replacing it with anything other spice mixture, you can use 2- 3 teaspoon easily.
  • For point no. 6 : I have found that in hot and tropical climate like ours, generally the dough becomes very sticky and needs more flour. So you can add a little amount to the dough or generously flour the work surface so that it gets absorbed.
  • Indian ovens like MR, Bajaj are smaller and hence it is prefarable to keep the pan on the lowest rack and bake. Because the pan is tall and dough has risen 1 inch above the pan. So if you keep it on middle rack, the top gets too browned or burnt. So keep it not he lowest rack, with both rods on. If you have a big commercial oven, use the middle rack.
  • Do not let the loaf cool in the pan, or the bottom and sides will become moist. Always use a cooling rack to cool it.

slices of bread

Pepper and Cheese bread pinterest

Winter delight : Methi Laddoos

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A couple days back I posted a photo of methi laddoos, a delicious winter variety of nutty ladoos on my Facebook feed. Everyone kept asking for the recipe, so here it is. Straight from my mami, who lovingly sent a box with my cousin who came over.

All winters we have literally hogged on these laddoos since childhood. But because of the very intense ingredients used, the quantity was limited to only one laddoo per day. May be a second one if you coaxed someone enough and drank a full glass of milk with it. I always did.

These laddoos stay well at room temperature even for a month. During my internship days when I used to go to Delhi for a month in December, my mom used to make and give me 30-40 of these laddoos. And they used to be my breakfast every morning. Wholesome, compact and nutritious. Methi (fenugreek) is also a galactagogue, that is it enhances milk production in lactation mothers. They were my quick snack everyday when baby Arjun was born and I was feeding him.

Caveat : Methi laddoos are I think an acquired taste. I love the bitter, nutty, sweet deliciousness but not everyone can handle it. If you are trying it for the first time, you can reduce the quantity of methi powder and gradually add in more if you find it suitable!

Recipe for Methi Laddoos

What you will need :

  • 1/2 kg of desiccated coconut (khobra)
  • 250 gms of Poppy seeds (khaskhas)
  • 250 gms of Dry dates (kharik), powdered
  • 100 gram walnuts + 100 gram almonds + 100 gram cashew nuts
  • 1 heaped tablespoon fenugreek powder (add more if you like it more bitter)
  • 200 grams powdered sugar
  • 200 grams pure ghee

What to do:

  1. Grate the dry coconut. Roast it on low flame in a thick bottomed pan till it turns golden brown. Remove on a plate and keep aside till it slightly cools.
  2. Roast the poppy seeds. Once cool, grind them along with some sugar. Poppy seeds release oil and become sticky, so we use sugar along with the roasted poppy seeds to grind.
  3. Grind all the dry fruits too.
  4. And the powdered dry dates to the dry-fruits. You can get powdered dates if you know a reliable source or shop. I make the powder at home.
  5. Now the roasted grated coconut can be crushed by hand itself. After you break the grated coconut into finer particles evenly, add all the above powdered material to this coconut along with the fenugreek powder.
  6. I get fenugreek seeds ground from the flour mill because I make a lot of laddoos in winter. But you can grind the seeds at home for the recipe as you need. If you roast the seeds just a light brown the bitter taste will lessen.
  7. Warm the container of pure ghee in a vessel containing hot water so that it turns liquid. Add this liquid ghee to this mixture. Don’t put the ghee to direct flame.
  8. Then roll the laddoos with your hand. Add a little more melted ghee if required for it to come together. Nice tasty laddoos ready to eat.

“Rutvika I hope I have been able to convey the recipe. With lots of best wishes to all.” – Mami 🙂

There! Let me know how it turns out of you do make them.

Rutvika

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Hi-Hat Chocolate Cupcakes

Inside of a high hat cupcake

I have been eyeing these Hi-hat cupcakes on Pinterest for so long now, that I had to make them sooner than later. They are essentially choclate cupcakes with a frosting and dipped in melted chcolate, like your Mc Swirl in Mc Donalds.They looked daunting. What if the fluffy white meringue on top which gets dipped in the chocolate just melts away? What if the chocolate doesnt hold and starts dripping? What if the entire frosting collapses and settles in a puddle on the cupcake? It would be an epic bake-fail, but curiousity got the better of me and I made these. And beleive it or not, they are super easy! I watched a couple videos about making the frosting and then adapted a Martha Stewart recipe to make mine.

High Hat cupcake

Droolworthy chocolates

Hi-Hat Cupcakes!

What you will need :

For the cupcakes

  •  2 cups maida
  •  ¾ cup cocoa powder
  •  1 tablespoon baking powder
  •  ½ teaspoon baking soda
  •  a pinch of salt
  •  1 and ½ cup castor sugar
  •  2 eggs
  •  8 tablespoon melted butter (I use Amul)
  •  1 cup plain yoghurt
  •  ½ cup warm milk
  •  1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  •  1 and ½ cup chocolate chips

Ingredients for chocolate cupcakes

  1.  Mix the flour + baking powder + baking soda + cocoa powder + salt. Sift it so that it gets aerated and there are no chunks of baking powder or soda.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk butter till pale and add sugar. Mix well.
  3. Then add the eggs, one at a time and whisk into the butter.
  4. Mix in the yoghurt and vanilla.
  5. Now with a rubber spatula fold in the dry ingredients and the milk in two additions. Always start and end with the dry ingredients.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 180C for 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, line a muffin pan with paper liners. Drop the batter into the pan and bake for 20 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre comes clean.
  8. Let it cool in the pan and then on a wire grill completely before frosting.

Chocolate chip cupcakes

For the meringue frosting

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 and ¾ cup castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Making meringue

  1. In a large heatproof bowl, mix all the ingredients and whisk with a manual whisk or a hand held blender till it forms soft peaks.
  2. In another vessel, heat water till it simmers.
  3. Put this bowl with egg whites on the vessel over the stove/ gas. Whisk continuously till it forms stiff peaks and the temperature of the egg whites goes upto 70 degrees C on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, keep it whisking on the simmering water for 10 minutes, it reaches about that temperature and then egg whites are safe to be consumed.
  4. Then remove from heat and keep whisking till it cools down considerably and frosting thickens.
  5. Do not stop whisking in the entire process or egg whites will curdle.
  6. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a big round nozzle.

For the chocolate coating

  • 2 cups chopped chocolate
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil

How to proceed:

  1. Combine chopped chocolate and oil in a microwave safe bowl and heat it in bursts of 20 seconds, whisking in between, till all chocolate is melted. Alternately, you can heat it over double boiler.
  2. Let it cool to room temperature.
  3. If the chocolate hardens by the time you are ready to dip, heat it in microwave for 30 seconds and it will be liquid.

Chocolate dripping

ASSEMBLY

  1. Now the cupcakes are ready to be frosted and dipped.
  2. Frost a high pile of the meringue frosting on each of the cupcakes. Refrigerate for a couple of minutes before dipping in chocolate.
  3. Keep the melted chocolate in a high wide glass. I used a measuring cup for it.
  4. Now grab each cupcake by its bottom and carefully dip it into the melted chocolate and remove it. Don’t worry, it will stay put. The meringue will not melt, you have my word.
  5. Put it in the fridge and let it sit for half hour before cutting.
  6. You high-hat cupcakes are ready!
Hi hat cupcake with chocolate frosting

Eggless Cupcake with eggless buttercream frosting

Notes :

  • Some recipes call for cream of tartar in the meringue, but I havent used it. It stays well and holds shape even without the cream of tartar.
  • Ensure that the instructions int he recipe are followed well, let the cupcakes cool down before frosting. lt the meringue sit in the fridge for a few minutes before dripping in the chocolate and let the chocolate be at room temperature but still  liquid.
  • In the Mumbai humidity, the chocolate ont he frosting starts to sweat as soon as you take it out of the refrigerator. There is hardly anything that can be done about it though.
  • If you want an eggless chocolate cupcake recipe, see here.
  • If you want an eggless chocolate buttercream frosting see here. Meringue frosting looks prettier because of the black and white combination, but you can use any other stable buttercream too.

Cupcakes with chocolate frosting

Palak and Cheese Kofta Curry

Koftas in curry

A few years back, cooking classes were a rage among all my mom’s friends. And they found one Mrs. Kapoor who taught all North Indian curries, rice preparations, koftas, Indian chineese, soups, cakes etc. I had attended one cake workshop with her, my first one, long time back. And then my sister-in-law attended a few of her classes and this is her creation.

The list of ingredients is long, but once you get it all together it is very simple. Just mix it all, fry and put it in the curry.

Filling a kofta

In Indian cooking, unlike baking, a few ingredients and measures can be adjusted. Feel free to do so if you don’t have any particular thing in your house. Or you can replace aamchur powder with say mint powder or substitute with lemon juice altogether. Feel comfortable.

My friends have come up with a specially coated range of stoneware – frying pan and kadhais called the Khlos Life. Its beautiful and we have been using it even for all our daily cooking since we got it. You can check them out on Amazon.

Palak and cheese kofta

Palak and Cheese Kofta in Curry

What you will need:

For the koftas outer covering –

  • 3 potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • 1 teaspoon ginger- chilli paste
  • 2 tablespoon corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon aamchoor powder
  • salt to taste, 1/2 teaspoon or so

Kofta Potato cover

For the kofta filling –

  • 1 bunch palak (boiled, squeezed and chopped finely)
  • 3 cubes cheese grated
  • 1 teaspoon ginger chilli paste
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic paste
  • salt to taste , about 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • few drops of lemon juice

Palak and cheese filling

For making tadka for the gravy –

  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon ajwain

For the gravy –

  • 4 tomatoes pureed without skins
  • 1/4 cup curd
  • 2 teaspoon besan
  • 3 tablespoon kaju powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon jeera powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt to taste, about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup coriander chopped
  • pinch of orange red color (optional)

What to do :

  1. Mix all ingredients for the kofta outer covering and knead it like a soft dough. keep it aside.
  2. Mix all ingredients of the kofta filling and check for seasoning.
  3. Make small balls of the filling and stuff them into disks of the outer covering and seal well. You will get about 10-12 koftas.
  4. Heat some oil in a kadhai, and fry the koftas on medium heat. Drain on kitchen paper.
  5. To make the gravy, I used the Khlos Deep kadhai. Heat the 2 tablespoon of butter, add the ajwain, onion and garlic and saute for  minutes.
  6. In a mixer or a food processor, churn everything required for the gravy.
  7. Pour it over the tadka in the kadhai and cook it on medium heat for 5-6 minutes till it starts to thicken.
  8. Put the koftas in the curry just before serving. Serve piping hot with some chapatis or rice.

Palak Kofta

Notes :

  1. 1 bunch of palak is roughly 3/4 cup when boiled and chopped.
  2. I have used fresh ginger and fresh chilli paste. And packaged ready garlic paste. You can use all fresh or all packaged. Adjust the salt accordingly.
  3. If you wish, add more water to the curry and keep it thinner for rice.

Tomato Curry

Rutvika Charegaonkar

Rustic Beetroot Cake (Eggless)

I have been baking often over the last few days. Simple occasions demand simple cakes without too much frosting or decoration. Real flavours and things that can be whipped up within an hour.

My 14 month old baby boy has begun to enjoy the cake decoration part. With his tiny little fingers he helps me put chocolate chips on the cake, but most of the fruits and sprinkles end up in his stomach. And now he gets excited when he looks at the pans, or the whisk or the even the weighing scale. He knows something delicious is coming up. I let him have little pieces of cake. Since he was 12 months old, he eats everything that we eat. And I bet he is turning into a foodie.

Since we are a nation obsessed with eggless cakes, I have been trying my hand on a couple of them. Substituting ingredients in a cake which calls for an egg or two doesn’t work. The whole composition has to be changed. So here is one based on a chocolate eggless cake from The Big Book of Treats by Pooja Dhingra.

This cake uses 2 small beetroots and gives a very nice flavour to the cake. it does not use any added colour. The texture is also very soft and crumbly. Topped with whipped cream and coloured sugar crystals, it looks very rustic.

Beetroot cake

 

Rustic Eggless Beetroot Cake 

What you will need :

  • 2 small beetroots, steamed/ boiled and pureed
  • 130 gram all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 100 gram Amul butter at room temperature
  • 20 gram castor sugar
  • 30 ml warm milk
  • 150 grams condensed milk
  • 150 gram dark chocolate melted

What to do :

  1. Melt the chocolate in microwave or double boiler and let it cool.
  2. Sift together all the dry ingredients – flour+ baking powder + baking soda and keep aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 180C for 5 minutes.
  4. In a big bowl, whisk butter till soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and whisk.
  5. Now add the milk, condensed milk and melted chocolate and mix well.
  6. Then slowly add the pureed beetroot and incorporate well with a whisk.
  7. Now fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula.
  8. Line one 6-8 inch pan with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides.
  9. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake at 180 C for 20-25 minutes till a skewer inserted int he centre comes out clean.
  10. I cut the cake horizontally into half to frost and stack them up.
  11. Decorate with some whipped cream and coloured castor sugar on top.

Slice of beetroot cake

Notes :

  • I steamed the beetroots (just like steaming potatoes) in a pressure cooker, removed the skin and then pulsed it in a mixer for a couple of minutes.
  • You can easily serve the cake without any frosting, it is very soft and melt-in-the mouth.

Fried Coconut Modaks

For the Daring Kitchen challenge in September, I made a trio of modak. One of them is this fried modak with a desiccated coconut filling. It is delicious and can be stored for upto a week in an air tight container.

Step-by-step recipe :

Fried modaks

 

Fried Coconut Modaks

What you will need:

  • 100 grams desiccated coconut (khopra)
  • 2 tablespoon dry fruit powder (comprising of 4 almonds, 4 unsalted pistachios and 4 cashews)
  • 5 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoon milk powder
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

For the covering / shell :

  • 1 heaped cup all purpose flour (145 grams)
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoon heated oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For frying :

  • 2 cups vegetable oil

What to do:

  1. To make the filling, pulse dessicated coconut in a mixer till it breaks into crumbs.
  2. Dry roast it in a pan till slightly browned.
  3. Take it off heat and add the dry fruit powder, cardamom powder, milk powder and put it back in the vessel over heat.
  4. Add 5 tablespoons of condensed milk to it.
  5. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes till it becomes slightly dry. Take care to see that it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  6. If it feels sticky, add another tablespoon of milk powder.
  7. Let the mixture cool down completely before using.

Making fried modak stuffing

 

  1. In another bowl, take one heaped cup all purpose flour, and add ¼ cup water with ½ teaspoon salt.
  2. In a small wok, heat 2 and half tablespoon oil. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of rice flour and let it sizzle for a few seconds.
  3. Add this oil to the bowl with flour and mix it well. Knead it for 2 minutes. And then keep it aside for 30 minutes to soften.
  4. After that, pulse it in a food processor for a minute, take it out and knead with hands to bring it together to form a smooth dough.
  5. Divide the dough into 12 equal balls.

Fried modak shell

 

  1. Roll each ball into a disk and then take it into the palm of your hand. Stuff it with some mixture leaving ½ inch on all sides. Start pinching the corners into petals with the use of your index finger and thumb and middle finger on each side. Make several such petals all around the edge of the disk.
  2. Then start getting all the petals together by pressing it closer with your fingers. Seal the top and keep it covered with a damp towel till all are done.

Shaping a fried modak

 

  1. In a big wok, heat 2 cups of vegetable oil. Fry two modaks at a time. Insert it into the oil pointed side down so that once that side cooks a little bit, it won’t open up while the rest of the modak are fried.
  2. Drain it on kitchen paper and serve.

Frying a modak

 

Vegetable Manchurian with Garlic gravy

The Indian Chinese is our favourite go-to when the body craves for some salty, err, tasty treats. When we pass by the Chinees stalls on the road and the China Garden hotel (I am sure every city has several by the same name), the aroma makes me want to linger. And stare at the man behind the stall making his manchurian swirl in his wok or tossing the fried rice up in the air, to expertly catch it at the right moment as it lands back in his wok. And those red dragons painted on the stalls. Oh, I want to go to one right now.

Vegetable manchurian

Never mind. We love to make the Vegetable Manchurian in the thick garlicky gravy at home. It is without the drama of the banian-clad man on a chinese stall, but tastes excellent. I also add a pinch of ajinomoto in the dough and gravy, we love that umami taste. But you can totally skip it. My husband believes it is safe and naturally occurring in many a foodstuff like mushrooms etc., and I take his word on that.

Generally veg manchurian goes well with any rice or noodles. Last Sunday we ate it with some boiled pasta, sautéed in butter and some herbed red sauce. It was a good lunch!

Vegetable Manchurian with Gravy

Manchurin gravy noodles

What you will need :

For the Manchurian balls :

  • 3/4 cup cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cauliflower, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 4 tablespoon maida
  • 2 tablespoon corn flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or more as per taste
  • a pinch of ajinomoto (totally optional, but I love the taste)
  • a little water, if required for kneading
  • Oil for frying

For the gravy :

  • 7-8 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 2 teaspoon oil
  • 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly crushed pepper powder
  • 3 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour mixed in 1 and 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • a pinch of Himalayan chilli for flavor
  • a pinch of ajinomoto (totally optional, but I love the taste)

Spring onion greens for decoration.

What to do :

  1. Keep all the vegetables washed and chopped, ready to use in a large bowl. To it add all the ingredients as mentioned in Manchurian balls, except the water.
  2. Knead it all together to form balls. I needed about 1 tablespoon of water. It should be a sticky dough which can be roughly rolled into balls.
  3. In a large kadhai, heat some oil and fry these Manchurian balls on low heat. Drain on kitchen paper and let them cool.
  4. To make the gravy, in a thick bottomed vessel, heat some oil. Fry the garlic and add the onions. Cook till translucent.
  5. Then add rest of the ingredients mentioned in the gravy and let it simmer on low heat for 5-7 minutes. The sauce will begun to thicken.
  6. Once fairly thick, take the sauce off the heat and add the fried manchurian balls.
  7. Sever hot with some fried rice or noodles.
  8. I made some pasta noodles (cooked as per instructions on the packet) and topped it with some herbed red sauce. Recipe here.

Noodles with marinara

Notes :

  1. You can also use beans and your choice of vegetables, but keep the proportion same.
  2. Ajinomoto is entirely optional, skip it if you don’t like. But I am sure your Chinese guy uses it. So once in a while it is okay to use.
  3. If the manchurian balls are coming apart in the oil, knead it well with a little more water and always cook on low flame so that the vegetables get cooked till the centre.

Manchrian with noodles

Spicy Crisp Masala Cookies

Spicy Masala cookies

I have been a fan of Daring Kitchen – Daring Bakers and Daring Chefs Challenges since a long time. Although currently with a baby and all his shenanigans, I find it difficult to make the challenge every month. But I sure bookmark them for whenever time permits.

These Indian Biscuits were hosted by Aprarna of My Diverse Kitchen somewhere back in August 2013. I had them written in a tiny little recipe book I maintain. And finally last week made these crisp yet flaky (and quite spicy) Masala cookies. The crisp crunch of the cookies as you bit into the them with the chillies is quite good.

When I made these biscuits the second time, I replaced the curry leaves and pepper with a generous amount of homemade garam masala and it tasted delicious.

Here is the adapted recipe from Daring Bakers . You can sure make your own variations.

Heart shaped cookies

Spicy Crisp Masala Cookies

What you will need:

  • 1 and 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tablespoon cold yoghurt
  • 115 grams chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry curry leaves powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon powder sugar
  • 2 red chillies, very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • Little oil

Method :

  1. Mix together all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, rice flour and corn flour.
  2. To that add diced cold butter cubes and mix it with a hand blender till the texture becomes like sand.
  3. Now add pepper, curry leaves, chilli powder, sugar, ginger garlic paste and yoghurt. Mix well with the blender.
  4. The dough should be moist, not wet.
  5. Pat the dough into a thick disk and place it in a saran or plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for atleast 3 hours. I kept it overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 160C and line a baking tray with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  7. Lightly dust your working surface with all purpose flour. Roll out disks of flour to 2-3 mm thickness.
  8. Cut shapes with a cookie cutter.
  9. Transfer to the parchment line baking tray. Spread on with some sesame seeds and press down.
  10. Gently brush with some oil and bake for 20-25 minutes till the brown from the bottom.
  11. Let them cool on the tray for 5 minutes and further on a wire rack. Once completely cool they should be crispy.

Notes:

  1. Baking time will depend on the thickness and size of your cookies.
  2. The first 8 ingredients form the base of the cookies. You can replace the next ingredients with spices of your choice. They will also taste good with Italian dried herbs and fresh basil.

Masala cookies

 

Grandpa. Its been 19 years since you are gone. And chocolate Iced terrine for the summers.

Summers always make me miss my grandfather. My mother’s father. The smell of heat scorched earth or some sweet smelling flowers transports me back to that time when we were little and we used to spend the vacations with him. He was a jolly man, in love with music, good food and in turn – in love with life. He passed away at the age of 60 due to blood cancer. Too early. But then, I think even 100 would have been too early for him.

I was 10 and my cousin AJ was 9 when grandpa was diagnosed with cancer. But in those few years I have so many memories of him. He was a big man, with a bigger stomach and an even bigger appetite for delicious street food. We would take a train and go into the city to just to eat bhel from a famous bhelpuri-wala or go to another part of the city to eat some garma garam fafda jalebi. Or simply load ourselves with a few watermelons, go up on the terrace and dig into them while leaving red watermelony stains on our clothes. He also had a bank of chocolates. A glass jar, which held chocolates and candies of various colors and sizes. Each day Aj and I would get to put our hand in the jar and pull out one chocolate. Of course, whenever we bought some candies or were gifted some, they went straight into the jar. How I miss those colourful crinkly candies in the jar and also standing in front of grandpa and waiting to put my hand in that jar.

Ajji Ajoba and kids

Grandpa had a huge collection of audio cassettes. And a notebook where he painstakingly indexed all the songs in his meticulous handwriting. He was like a living jukebox. Anyone could request a song and it would get played within minutes. And it was a time of the tape recorder where the cassette had to be rewinded or forwarded to find your song.When I got an ipod for mom from my first stipend, I ached for grandpa. He would have so loved this little thing which stored hundreds of songs, pre-indexed and could be played at a click. One of my favourite songs from that time is “Mere paas aao mere doston ek kissa sunno“. Kissa – stories. Life was all about stories then. Other people’s stories to help us build our own.

Grandpa believed in a funny concept. That there is less oxygen in a room which is full of people. So whenever everyone was gathered around the dining table and Aj and I ofcourse wanted to get in all the gossip, he would ask us to leave the room and go to an airier room. Or go out in the garden and play. We hated that and would find ways to stick around the adults and listen to who said what. But he was persistent. Many times he would come with us in the garden, just to ensure that we got more “oxygen”. Or perhaps he was simply shying away from my stubborn grand-mom with her defiant thoughts. That man cried at movies while we kids giggled at seeing a grown up man cry. But how essential it is to be able to cry. Now I know. And it came easily to him.

So you can see he was quite an emotional man. I love my grandmom and he did too. But sometimes I feel she was much stronger and practical than him. Just after he turned 60, my grandma went away to stay and work in an old-age home. They say, that broke my old man’s heart. And soon he was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in six months. This week it will be 19 years since he passed away. And I miss him more than I ever did. When I listen to a song he used to play or when I eat bhelpuri or simply when the scorched earth smells of itself when it rains.

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Chocolate Iced terrineTriple Chocolate Iced Terrine

What you will need :

White Chocolate Layer –

  • 50 gm white chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 20 gm sugar
  • 20 ml water

Milk Chocolate Layer –

  • 50 gm milk chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 20 gm sugar
  • 20 ml water

Dark Chocolate layer –

  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 60 gm dark chocolate

Layers of iced terrine

What to do :

  1. Firstly chop white chocolate and melt it over double boiler or in a microwave.
  2. Bloom or sprinkle geltain over the 1 tablespoon water and leave it aside fro 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk cream and refrigerate.
  4. Place sugar and water in a saucepan and swirl over low heat till sugar dissolves.
  5. Bring it to a boil, take it off heat and add gelatin.
  6. Pour into melted chocolate and whisk quickly. Carefully fold in the cream with a rubber spatula.
  7. Pour it into a terrine pan or I used a loaf pan. Smooth the surface with a spatula and put it in the freezer.
  8. Repeat the same procedure with milk chocolate and pour it over the white layer of terrine in the pan.
  9. For the dark chocolate mousse, chop dark chocolate and melt it over a double boiler.
  10. Whisk cream till firm and fold in the melted dark chocolate.
  11. Pour this dark mousse over the milk chocolate layer and smoothen the top.
  12. Put it in the freezer for atleast 3 hours for it to set.
  13. Cut slices and serve or dip the loaf in hot water and upturn it over a plate.

One layer of iced terrineNotes :

  1. You can replace the gelatin with double amount of agar-agar and follow the same procedure.
  2. I used Amul whipping cream. There was no problem in setting it because of the gelatin.

Iced terrine collage

Balsamic Mushroom Pasta and the end of my maternity leave

This week is the last week of my maternity leave and I will soon resume work. It is difficult to believe that it’s been 3 months since I gave birth , since the first time my baby boy tightly held my little finger till his fingertips looked white. He still does that, but now he wants to firmly hold on to my index finger. And he looks directly into my eyes, follows me as I move from one side to the other while doing my chores and sometimes I just move to check his ability to follow me. He has also graduated from ‘newborn’ clothes to ‘3-6 months’ set of tee shirts and onesies. And my little boy now generously showers everyone with that toothless gummy smile.

I talk to him a lot. I tell him how momma needs to go to office now, but his ajji will take care of him. He coos as if he understands, but makes me promise him that I will cuddle and hug him as soon as I come home. I promise, he animatedly waves his hands and I pick him up. He is my son, we have a connection and he knows momma will be happier when she works.

As for me, it’s been four months since I am at home. Initially bed rest for a month and then these three months. Now that my baby has a set routine, it gives me time to think of things beyond him. I have to restart from the basic things. I have nothing to wear, pregnancy has made me an L from an M and I need to go shopping. My hair is in a frizzy mess, good foot wear is non existent and my sense of traffic has gone for a toss. I ride my two wheeler at the speed of 20, because after being home-borne for 4 months, even 20 kmph seems very fast. I gotta get back on track before I can resume work.

It’s strange the ways in which motherhood can change you. It has made me paranoid. I worry over his every sneeze, try to monitor his next milestone and insist on placing his blanket exactly at the same place every night.  Moreover I am constantly worried that something might happen to me when the baby is so fully dependent on me. Every fast approaching vehicle feels as if it will bump into me and give a bloody fracture. And so I need to start working. I need to start spending some amount of time away from baby worries otherwise it would make me go crazy.

My baby is exclusively breastfed and I plan to continue that for another 3 months. Office is close by so I can drop in for his feeding times and perhaps also express milk for alternate feedings. It’s a good thing, I will be on my toes. And anyway work expands to fill the time available. So I guess I will be able to do justice at my workplace too.

This baby boy and hence we as parents are lucky. He has one set of grandparents living with him (or we living with them) and another set of grandparents just 5 minutes away. And all four of them dote on him and are indulgent babysitters. It makes it so much easier for me to go out, knowing that he is in very good hands. In fact it becomes my responsibility to be very efficient at work and at home since I have a strong support system.

But right now when I look at him having a conversation with his beloved ceiling fan,  I wonder if I will constantly miss him while at work.

May be. But I need to slightly detach to attach better.

Xoxo,

Loving mama

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For the last few days, I have been baking and cooking a lot. Experimenting with new flavors and textures. And one such byproduct is this Balsamic Mushroom Pasta. I like my pasta little well cooked so that it melts in the mouth with the creamy balsamic glaze. Without much ado, presenting a simple pasta dish which can be whipped up in half an hour.

Mushroom pasta

Balsamic Mushroom Pasta

What you will need :

  • 2 cups mushroom, washed and sliced
  • 2 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup penne, cooked al dente for 10 to 12 minutes or as per instructions on the packet
  • 1 cup water in which the pasta was boiled
  • 3-4 tablespoon balsamic vinegar / balsamic glaze
  • 2 cubes or 40 gms Cheedar cheese cubes, grated
  • dried oregano, basil or other herbs as per taste

Pasta in a pot

What to do :

  1. In a big pot, melt butter and olive oil. Add the mushrooms and let them cook on medium heat till soft.
  2. Then add the chopped or crushed garlic and stir.
  3. Ad the cream and salt and mix well on low heat.
  4. Then add the pasta to this. Mix well.
  5. Add water and milk to the pan and cover and cook for about 10 minutes on low heat so that the sauce gets creamier and coats the pasta well.
  6. Then add the balsamic glaze, stir well. Add the grated cheese, dried herbs and stir well.
  7. Serve when hot with some red chillies or paprika.

Pasta in a pot and bowls