Saturday, 23 November 2013

Cheats Cardamom Cheesecake (actually no cheese!!)

Cheats Cardamom Cheesecake

Want a sinful indulgence? Here it is, that too with very little effort. It is a great dinner party item and if at all there is any left over, you can feast on it later. I made this with lots of doubts about whether it will set or not so added icing sugar so the corn starch in the sugar will help set and make it failure proof. You will find most other recipes do not use icing sugar so if you want to skip it, do so at your risk. I go with my gut feel usually and as I was making it for Diwali pot luck dinner and was hoping to create a wow factor, I did not want to fail . This is an incredibly easy dish that you can whip up he previous day so you have one less thing to worry about on the day guests come. I did not want to use more butter so I actually baked my biscuit base. If you do not want to bake, you can add about a 100gm more melted butter and make teh base by setting it in the fridge for about an hour. Next time I make it I intend to make it richer with saffron as well. I stuck to more desi flavour of cardamom as it was Diwali but we can even add orange or lemon zest or plant some strawberry pieces here and there to give a fruity flavour. So, here is the recipe itself...

1 tin sweetened condensed milk
600ml double cream
15 digestive biscuits or ginger nut biscuits
50gm melted butter
Generous amount of crushed nuts
½ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
3 tablespoon icing sugar

Crush the biscuits coarsely or finely based on your preference and add the melted sugar. Mix and put it on a lined springform cake tin. I usually do the mixing inside the tin to save using another dish. Spread this uniformly to form the base. Bake at 160degC for about 6 minutes, would just start to brown. Cool completely

Beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Electric beater is recommended if you are like me 

Next beat the condensed milk until it thickens in a separate bowl

Mix the two together along with the icing sugar and cardamom. I ground the cardamom with the sugar in my mixie. Fold them together as whisking again would loosen the mixture.

Pour this on cooled biscuit base, wrap it up and set in fridge atleast overnight. Sprinkle the nuts just before serving!

Just to show how well it sets, here is a slice...

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Corn and Spinach Pops

Corn and Spinach Pops

I saw a recipe on Tarla Dalal’s website and knew I wanted to try it. I was quiet sure I could not follow the recipe to the letter as it involved many steps and would have taken a few dishes to make it. I decided to simplify it and make my way but keeping the essence of the dish. The original recipe suggested making white sauce with plain flour, I replaced this with mashed potato to provide the binding as potato is complex carbohydrate. Ofcourse, I also skipped the deep frying and stuck to my method! I made it as an after school snack and thought it as a kid’s recipe but how wrong I was. I could have helped myself to more if only I had made more. It was a hit with my son

1/3 cup corn
1 large potato, cubed
Handful of spinach, washed
¼ cup grated (cheddar) cheese, could add bit more if needed
½ teaspoon jeera powder
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder
1 cup bread crumbs
Cooking oil

Boil potato in a pan and once it is nearly done, add corns and boil until cooked. Then add washed spinach and boil for couple of minutes

Drain and let this cool just so you can touch. Mash the mixture after adding jeera powder, turmeric powder, salt and cheese. Make sure you do not add too much salt as cheese tends to be salty as well. If it is a bit too soft and you are unable to make balls, add some breadcrumbs so it absorbs moisture. Mixture should now be like soft dough

Make little balls, about lime size, roll in breadcrumbs and fry with dots of oil in kuzhipaniyaram koodu (Danish cake tin I think). Once it gets a nice golden colour on all sides, put them on a plate and insert breadsticks to make them like lolli pops


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Almond Ricotta Cheesecake – Indian Kalakand with my spin

Almond Ricotta Cheesecake – Indian Kalakand with my spin
Diwali is a wonderful festival as it always brings back great memories. The purchase was big, food was big and emotions were plenty. This year, I was keen to share that feeling with my children as well and wanted to get into this habit of making Diwali special to them. Although we did not splash out on shopping for outfits like how my parents unfailingly did, I wanted us to be with people we were comfortable with. A few friends got together and had a potluck dinner and what a great evening it was! My son had his friends to play with and the firework itself took a good hour of the evening. Considering I have a little one as well, I thought potluck would be the way to go but being a food blogger I could not stop myself from trying couple of more things. As time and energy were tight, I chose to make milk sweet that literally needed to be whipped up and briefly cooked. It turned out to be so awesome that we kept trying more and more in the name of tasting, who were we kidding!! In the end, there was no enough to offer my friends and their families, ouch! To me, this is a classic Indian recipe made the western way – bake!

This recipe is dedicated to Ms Tarla Dalal. She has been a great inspiration and will live in my kitchen through the wonderful books I have.

150g coarsely ground almonds
1 tin of condensed milk
1 tub ricotta cheese, 300g or so
Pinch of saffron
Few chopped nuts
Ghee to grease bakeware

Mix together everything but the nuts

Pour into over proof baking dish hat has been greased with ghee. I wanted the cake height to be about an inch or just about so chose a suitable rectangular dish

Bake at 180degC for about 15-20 minutes. It will just begin to brown on top, sides will start to pull from the dish and it will still be a bit wobbly. Sprinkle nuts on top, cool and cut to required slices.

Enjoy this without having to slave in the kitchen for such a yummy desi treat!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Chocolate and Cherry Palmiers

Chocolate and Cherry Palmiers
Palmiers or elephant ears, is a dish of European origin, not sure if it is French or Germans that originated it. Does no really matter as it just tastes so good you would not want to research the origin but just the recipe. These are so easy to make if you have puff pastry in your fridge. I do not make my own puff pastry and hey, don’t judge me for that, even the best of bakers like Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood once confessed they don’t either. I actually made them for the first time to offer to my son’s friends who were meant to visit us for navaratri. However, I had to cancel their visit due to my daughter’s illness. Anyway, the point is that even if they had come, I did not make near enough of these as it turns out. They literally go flying and I kept making them throughout navaratri as we had a constant flow of guests. This is one version of this dish and I intend to post more of these so you get a variety of flavours.

½ sheet of puff pastry
2 tablespoon or so of chocolate spread like nutella
5-6 glace cherries, chopped

Spread the puff pastry sheet and smear it with the chocolate spread evenly, upto the edges. Dot with glace cherries here and there and use more if you want.

Roll both sides of the pastry so each half then meets at the centre, gently press. Wrap it and refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes or put in freezer for 10-15 minutes. This is important as puff pastry always needs to be cold and has to go in a very hot oven, else, it will not puff.

Cut into about 1.5cm thick slices and place on lined baking tray with good space between them. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200degC for about 8-10 minutes, until golden.

Cool and serve!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Cauliflower Keema

Cauliflower Keema
I have never had real keema so I cannot tell you if this is close but the idea of this dish is to cook minced vegetable. It is cauliflower that I picked for this dish and result was quiet good. I used it to stuff into dosa to make keema masala dosa one evening and then layered it over a very simple pulav rice for packed lunch. I used tandoori masala which is typically used for non-vegetarian dishes and I think it helped. Here is the recipe without any more rant…
1 medium cauliflower, grated
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small tomato, cubed
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 small piece of ginger, grated
1 cup green peas
2-3 green chillies, chopped
1 teapsoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon ghee and some cooking oil
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon chilly powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 heaped teaspoon tandoori masala or garam masala
Turmeric powder
Some chopped coriander leaves

Heat some oil and ghee in a heavy bottom pan and add cumin seeds. Once it becomes golden, add onions and fry till they begin to change colour and also add garlic, ginger and chillies

 Add the grated cauliflower and some turmeric powder, mix and fry for a couple of minutes

Add all the spice powders and the tomatoes and peas. Fry for couple of minutes, add salt and cook covered until veggies are well cooked. You may want to add few spoons of water so it does not burn

Allow it to cook on low flame uncovered for a couple of minutes so all extra water vaporises and you are left with a dry-ish curry.

Serve with rice or rotis or dosas

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Chocolate Pudding (eggless!)

Chocolate pudding
If you are a chocolate lover, you will love this. I wanted to make this for my son to have as pudding after dinner to mark his first full day at school. It went down a treat with my son and husband, that means it must have been atleast good J. I used dark chocolates I got from Lidl and find their quality quite good and would strongly advise to get fine chocolate otherwise it will show in the quality of the dish. You can keep this in the fridge for about 3 days if it lasts. If you have a chocolate loving guests, you can make these the previous day and refrigerate. Here is the recipe, no fuss and just indulgence...
Makes 6 servings (6 ramekins)
1 pack of dark chocolate
2.5 cups of milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoon cornflour

Add the cornflour to the milk and beat so there are no lumps. Heat this on a double boiler while stirring all along and do so until it coats the back of the spoon

Add the chopped chocolate and sugar and keep stirring and keep it on the double boiler until all the chocolate melts and it thickens and it looks shiny.

Pour into serving dishes, cover and refrigerate for atleast 3 hours

Yum yum!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Potato and Cauliflower stem sabji

Potato and Cauliflower stem sabji
Call me frugal but I just love to find ways of using as many edible parts of a vegetable as possible. When I was in college, my mom once mentioned that some of her colleagues cook the cauliflower stem. By stem, I am referring to the rib of the outer leaves that cover the curd. I then tried using it in a gravy and was quite good. Years later, I am beginning to do the same again. This time, I have used it in a dry sabji and when combined with potatoes, anything would go down with my better half. It is quite nutritious as well so that makes me even happier that I managed to use it. Avoid using the thick ones as they are very fibrous, the tender ones are ideal. Here is a simple recipe...
1 onion, chopped
About 10 baby potatoes, boiled and peeled
Tender stalks from cauliflower, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon chilly powder
½ teaspoon sabji masala or garam masala
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon amchur powder
Cooking oil
Heat some oil and add the cumin seeds. Once it browns add the onions and cook until it just begins to change colour

Add the stalks and little salt and cook covered until it is cooked i.e. soft

Add the boiled potatoes, turmeric powder, chilly powder, garam masala, more salt if needed and amchur powder and cook until all raw smell goes away.

Ready to serve

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Nutella cookies

Nutella Cookies
What a day it has been!! I have barely slept in several nights, thanks to the kids becoming poorly one after another. Not to mention that has not left me with my usual energy levels, however, when special days come around, one just has to find the energy from somewhere. So what was special about today, it was my kid’s first day at school! I wanted to make something that he would like to have as an after school snack and thought a chocolate cookie is unlikely to go wrong. I wanted it to be reasonably unhealthy as well and not pure indulgence so I added millet flour and wholewheat flour. I tried dusting the cookies with icing sugar before baking them hoping it will have a nice white appearance when baked but it did not turn out as expected as it melted in the oven. However, it did give an interesting texture and taste and was not all too wrong afterall. You may want to try it or skip that bit.

4 tablespoon nutella
80 gram i.e. 1/3 cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup wholewheat flour
½ cup ragi flour (if you do not have any, you could use any other millet flour or more wholewheat flour)
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon soda bicarbonate
1 tablespoon milk, if needed
2 tablespoon icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 degC. Line the baking tray with greaseproof sheet
Cream together the butter, nutella and sugar

Sift the flours with the soda bicarb and baking powder. I also added a tablespoon of coco powder to make it more chocolatey. Mix to form a soft dough, add a bit of milk if needed. When you pinch a ball and roll, it should just about hold comfortably

Pinch small lime sized balls and flatten with your hand by pressing down. Dust the cookie in icing sugar and line on the tray with atleast an inch between each other

Bake for about 8-9 minutes. Be careful as i is hard to determine if the cookies have browned as the chocolate is already brown. I usually go with the smell. By eight minutes, it is aromatic, utmost a minute more would usually be enough.
Leave on the tray outside for about ten minutes as they will be very soft. Then cool completely in a cooling rack

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Darbari Dal

Darbari Dal
Recently, dals have been my saviour considering life is getting more and more demanding and tiring. As always, I stick to cooking fresh food everyday and eating hot meal atleast for dinner. It usually is roti and a side dish. The only down side with dal, as I see it is that it is not always rich in vegetables. Having said that, dal itself is one of your five a day food so very well having them everyday. I like to add atleast onion and tomatoes to them to make their nutritive value better. Half an onion is part of one of five a day vegetables, so that is easy. Most of the times, I also add other vegetables like courgettes, green papaya, ash gourd, ridge gourd etc. One evening though, I was a bit bored of all of these and decided to try something from Tarla Dalal’s website and what a brilliant attempt it was! I tried darbari dal and was a bit sceptical about the result because it did not look like there was anything out of the ordinary in it. I was very wrong, the innocent lentils literally transformed to flavour bombs. In addition to the ground  masala, what I learned from this dish was what a spoon of milk and yogurt could do to an ordinary dal. Infact, I have made this practise common now and add a dash of both to most dals I make. Do not over do, else the dal will start tasting like payasam (dessert), learn from my experience!! The original recipe calls for cream but I used milk and still it was great. This dish is fit for special occasions as well and not just a mundane evening. Here is the recipe…

1/3 cup  masoor dal
1/3 cup moong dal
2 tbsp toovar dal
1 tbsp ghee
1/3 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
3 green chillies slit
1/2 tbsp ginger paste
1 large tomato, chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
2 tbsp yogurt, beaten
2 tbsp milk

1 tsp cumin seeds
Cooking oil

Heat a pressure pan, add some ghee and some oil, heat and add cumin seeds, followed by onions, ginger paste, dried fenugreek leaves and green chillies

Saute until onion begins to change colour and add tomatoes and all spice powder and salt and sauté for 3-5 minutes so raw smell goes away

Add rinsed and drained dal, two glasses of water and pressure cook for about 4 whistles

Open the pressure pan and add milk and yogurt and bring to boil

Garnish with some coriander leaves and serve hot