Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Fresh Apricot Cake (Eggless)

Fresh Apricot Cake
While growing up in India, I did not get a chance to see or try a number of fruits. One of those was apricots. I do remember having dried apricots but not fresh ones so when I saw them here, I was quite excited. I did buy a box of fresh apricots though I was not sure if we will use it up. I was then tempted to bake something with it and chose to make a cake. It is more a breakfast cake as they can be quite filling and ofcourse quite nutritious. If you like cakes sweet, then add more sugar. I quite liked the cake and think I will make it often, although may use tinned apricots rest of the year.

5-6 apricots, cut into slices
¾ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup wholewheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon soda bicarbonate
¾ cup orange juice with pulp (juice from two oranges)
¼ cup yogurt
1/3 cup margarine/butter/oil
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoon vinegar
2 tablespoon mixed peel
2 tablespoon black currants or any other dried fruit of choice
3-4 tablespoon water

Whisk together the orange juice, sugar, oil/butter/margarine and sift together baking powder, soda bicarbonate, flours and add to the orange juice mixture

Add yogurt, mixed peel and currants, mix until combined. Add little water to make a batter to dropping consistency

Add vinegar and mix lightly

Line a cake tin with baking paper and arrange chopped apricots on the bottom

Pour the cake batter into the tin and tap gently about ten minutes

Bake in a preheated oven at 180degC for 30-40 minutes, until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean

Cool in tin for five minutes then transfer to cooling rack and cool completely

Friday, 27 July 2012

Naan (no yeast, no egg, no oven)

It was my mom that had first ever told me that naan was an Indian bread and ordered it for me at a restaraunt, ofcourse years back. I remember making attempts to make naan at home in my mother’s kitchen. Usually for these unusual ventures, both me and my brother would participate and throw our ideas. We were going to allow the dough to kind of ferment by mixing it using yogurt and leaving aside for few hours. Then make thick roti and sprinkle water and make it stick to tava. Holding the tava with the handle the idea was to show the upper surface of the naan to flame. It came out well but not quite like restaurant one. In my kitchen, I tried making it with yeast and cooked it in the oven. It was ok but it came out a bit crisp on the top. I then wanted to try without yeast and this was it. Except the fact that I did not use tandoor oven, it came out very good. In some ways it was even better than restaurant because I used combination of wholewheat and refined flour. I do not think using even 50-50 each flour would not harm the naan, will still be soft. No yeast, no oven, no egg, just super good naan!

1 cup wholewheat flour
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch soda bicarbonate
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup yogurt
½ cup milk
Cooking oil

Mix all dry ingredients together and combine with wet ingredients. Add water as needed to form a soft dough. Add some oil and knead well. Keep aside for couple of hours

Divide the dough into lemon sized balls and roll to a thick roti, elongate one side to give it the teardrop shape. If using any topping like onion seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, coriander etc., do so now.

Cook one side on a hot tava, flip the side once bubbles appear. Cook second side for about 40-50 seconds, it should start browning.

Now cook on direct flame, until it puffs up and browns

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Aubergine in Dal

Aubergine in Dal
Regular readers of my blog may remember that I had bought a couple of ayurvedic cook books. Oh, don’t worry that does not mean I will use ingredients you have not heard of or cannot find in regular shops. I was looking for everyday recipes which have the ingredients combined based on ayurvedic guidelines. One of the books I bought certainly lives upto that requirement. I was flipping through its pages after a long time and came across this aubergine in dal recipe. I am not a fan of regular dal simply because it is too simple and can be plain, especially when made for my husband as he does not like hot food. However, this dal recipe sounded interesting because it also had aubergine, a good veggie included thereby boosting our vegetable intake and the fact that we char it and use it imparts so much flavour to the dish. Although i have not used any chilly powder but just had lot more red chillies than suggested in the recipe, the flavours came through very well and was actually better than hot food. This certainly is a keeper especially considering I get Spanish aubergines more readily than baby eggplants. I used ginger instead of garlic as some folks at home do not take garlic. Here is the recipe, it will serve 2-3. The book recommends that we cook in ghee, I used a little bit oil along with ghee. The tempering with cumin and red chilly was my addition, you could skip it if you want.
1 large aubergine, charred and skin peeled
1/3 cup moong dal, well cooked
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 ½ teaspoon  coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
3-5 dry red chillies
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ginger
Handful of coriander leaves, chopped

Heat some ghee/oil and add dry red chillies, onion and ginger. Cook until soft

Mix the spice powders in some water and add this to the onion. Add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are mushy

Add the aubergine. I charred it, peeled and cut it into chunks, little water, salt and cook for couple of minutes

Add cooked mung dal, salt and simmer

Heat little ghee in a small pan and add cumin seeds and dry red chillies and add to this dal mixture. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve

Monday, 23 July 2012

Herbed Potato Cheese Scones (eggless)

Herbed Potato Cheese Scones (eggless)
I recently bought couple of books which have 500 recipes each. One is full of cakes and other is full of biscuits, cookies, scones etc. I was super excited seeing the books arrive by post and have been glancing through the recipes since then. I must say that when I first looked at them, I was put off by the amount of fat and the quantity of eggs used in each recipe and wondered if I will ever use those books. Later, I had a think about some recipes and gathered some ideas and thoughts. The general recommendation is that one does not replace eggs with anything else if the original recipe calls for more than three eggs. Anyway, with a lot of learning in mind, the first dish I tried was these potato scones. They did go down a treat, especially at breakfast time. I used milk instead of eggs in this recipe. Here it is...
1 large potato, boiled
¾ cup wholewheat flour
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese or use paneer instead
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves or any other herbs of choice
2 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon oil
Salt to taste (remember cheese may also have some salt in it)

Sift the flour and baking powder, add salt, add mashed potato and oil and mix. Add grated cheese, coriander leaves and milk and mix just until it forms a soft dough. Do not over knead

Roll into about ¾ inch thick disc and cut into circles and place on lined baking tray and bake in preheated oven at 200degC for 15 minutes

Serve warm

Friday, 20 July 2012

Sundakkai Vathal Rice (Dried Turkey Berry Rice)

Sundakkai Vathal Rice
Health is wealth and I would rather be the wealthiest person and ofcourse keep my friends and family wealthy. Also, I rather do it by eating healthy than popping pills. These turkey berries are one of those gems found naturally and can help us a great deal. I have written more about these berries in this post. Unlike many other berries, this berry is not sweet but bitter but even better for us. Having this kind of rice even once a week should do us good. My mom’s tip to make the sundakkai more palatable (make it less bitter) is to fry it in generous portion of oil instead of a spoon of oil. I made pumpkin pachadi which is hot and sweet so that complemented the bitterness in the berries. Trust me, the whole meal was just wonderful. Even if you do not normally have Indian meals, you should try this for the simple reason that it is super healthy. Dried turkey berries are available in most Indian shops.
2 tablespoon sundakkai vathal
3-4 garlic cloves
4-5 sambar onion (pearl onion)
One sprig curry leaves
2-3 dry red chillies
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Gingelly oil
1-2 tablespoon powdered sundakai vathal
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urd dal

Heat some gingelly oil and add the mustard seeds, urd dal, dry red chillies and allow the seeds to crackle

Add onion, garlic, and curry leaves and cook until raw smell goes

Add turmeric powder and sundakkai and fry until it begins to change colour

Add the crushed/powdered sundakai and fry for couple of minutes

Add cooked rice, salt and mix well, serve hot

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake (Low Fat without cream cheese)

Strawberry Cheesecake

After my first baked cheesecake attempt, I felt more confident that I could experiment with a bit complicated baked dishes. I was fancying the mango cheesecake and thought I should make some soon. I remembered to stock mango pulp but had not bought enough cream cheese to make cheese cake. Well, it is not a part of my shopping list usually but that particular week I had ordered some thinking I will make cream cheese frosting for an important cake I was going to make. I then tried buying flavoured yogurt and thought that will be a good experiment, also keeping the fat content low. However, call it my luck, I could not find any flavoured luck in the local shops. I did manage to buy just a four pint bottle of semi-skimmed milk. I later read online that some people struggle to buy cream cheese in many parts of India as it is not very popular. As paneer is far more popular and also can be made at home, I went for a paneer based cheesecake. I somehow have reservations about using agar agar etc. in dishes, may be I just need to get over the mental block, but that’s something for later. I stuck to baking the cheesecake and prepared the paneer by curdling the semi skimmed milk using lime juice. I drained and refrigerated the paneer overnight as I did not have time to make the cake the same evening. I used couple of spoons of greek yogurt to add some texture, you could use hung curd instead or skip it. The final colour was not as lovely as the strawberry pulp itself but who cares, it tasted divine. I did not have butter on hand so used low fat spread to make the base too. This time, my wee one loved it too! Do check out the mango cheesecake post for more tips on making cheesecakes. I checked the calorie difference between the cream cheesecake (low fat) and this version made with paneer, the latter is about 60cal lower than former and almost only half the saturated fat is present.
275g paneer
2 tablespoon greek yogurt
2 ½ tablespoons all purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 cup strawberry pulp
For base
12 digestive biscuits
2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sugar

Crush the biscuits in a Ziploc cover or food processor. Add melted butter and a tablespoon sugar and mix well so you can pat it on the base on a lined springform cake tin

Bake this in a preheated oven at 180degC for 8 minutes

In a food processor or mixer combine the paneer and sugar and mix well

Add the strawberry pulp and mix until combined

Add the flour and mix until just combined

Add yogurt and mix until just combined

Pour this mixture over the baked biscuit base and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. You know it is done when the edges brown and the centre is still wobbly/jiggly when tapped on the side

Leave it in the oven (with oven turned off) to cool for about two hours and wrap in a cling film and refrigerate for atleast a night

Friday, 13 July 2012

Cranberry Currants Biscuit (low fat)

Cranberry Currants Biscuit (low fat)
Ever since I made cranberry shortbread, I fell in love with biscuits with dried cranberry in them. I do fancy them quite often but the amount of butter somehow puts me down. It may rather be easy to buy a packet of biscuit but when I read the list of ingredients in them, I invariably put them back in the supermarket shelf or even worse, I buy them, but not gather the courage to eat them and eventually bin them after the ‘expiry’ date. It is so satisfying when you know exactly what is going into your tummy and as well as that of people you love. When I started off with my baking trials (quite nervously), I did try a biscuit with oil and no butter. However, it only came out like a cookie (chewy and soft) and not crispy and have a bite. This time, when I came across an interesting recipe that called only for oil, I was intrigued. In the last few months, I have learned a lot around baking and thought now may be the time to try a recipe that has much less butter in it. Rather than going 0% butter, I divided the total fat between butter and oil and I must say that despite this, overall fat content of the biscuit is still lesser than what would normally be used. I thought that completely butterless biscuit will not go down well and there is no point in baking something that will sit on my counter glaring at me. You could use margarine if you wish or if you are bolder than I am, do try 100% oil and let me know how it turns out. Eventually, the recipe was nothing like where I drew the inspiration from but I am glad I ran into that recipe...

¼ cup butter, softened
¼ cup sunflower oil
2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup all purpose flour
Less than ½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup dried currants
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup milk

Sift together the flours and baking powder

Add the sugar and mix. Add the cranberries, currants (soak the currants in water for five minutes before adding to avoid them burning), softened butter and mix by hand so the mixture looks like breadcrumbs

Add the oil and mix further so it just begins to form a dough

Add the milk but make sure you add just enough milk to make a soft dough. Depending on the flour, the milk quantity may vary. As I thought the dough was slightly more softer than needed (it would have been ok if I had rested the dough in the fridge) I added couple of tablespoons of bran, you could add oats or just more flour too

Divide into portions and roll a disc of about 3-5mm thick and cut into desired shapes and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Leave about an inch gap between each of them.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180degC for 10-12 minutes, until the biscuits brown. Transfer to cooling rack and store in air tight container once cooled