Thursday, May 25, 2017

Orange Yogurt Cake


Regular visitors to my space know that I have my limitations with cake and stick to the simplest ones. Here's another one that falls in that category. But when it comes to the taste, it's wonderful. I came across the recipe in Ariana Bundy's book, Pomegranates and Roses.
In the book, she calls it Cakeh Mamani/Grandmother's Yogurt Cake. Lemon zest is added to the mix. I have made that version too but today's post is the orange one. The power went off as soon as the cake went into the preheated oven. It came back after an hour! I thought the result would be disastrous but it was still good. Our state's erratic power supply couldn't beat the love the went into the baking of this cake!!
I made a few adaptations with the measurements.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of salt
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup caster sugar
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
75 g melted butter+extra for greasing the tin (can be substituted with olive oil or safflower oil)
1 cup full fat yogurt (I strained a 400 g container of yogurt overnight to get 1 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:
Grease a 9" tin with butter. I used a springform tin. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl.
A slice of yogurt cake, orange zest/sugar and the tin, ready for the oven

In another bowl, whisk the sugar with the orange zest for a few seconds. This will release the oils from the zest.
Add the eggs and whisk till well-mixed.
Whisk in the butter or oil, vanilla extract and yogurt.
Fold in the flour and mix but do not overbeat.
Pour the batter in the prepared tin and bake for about 30-35 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Take it out of the oven and leave to cool. Don't leave it for long as 'the cake will steam and become gooey'.
Flip the tin over and invert it on a cooling rack.
This is best eaten at room temperature.
Made earlier...with lemon zest
This cake is absolutely delicious! This is the third time I have made it. On two earlier occasions, I had used lemon zest. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Mango Shrikhand

Amarkhand/Mango Shrikhand

With mangoes in season, the heat and the humidity is momentarily forgiven!  I have been incorporating a lot of this 'King of Fruits' in my desserts. The most recent one was in shrikhand. This dish comes from the western part of our country and is very popular in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. It is made with hung curd and the addition of cardamom powder, saffron, sugar and nuts. Where mangoes are added, the dish is called amarkhand. My variation used layers just to make the dessert look more attractive. It's light and very delicious. This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:
400 grams plain curd, drained for about 3 hours
Ground sugar, as per taste
A pinch of cardamom powder
A pinch of saffron
2 ripe mangoes
A few pistachios and almonds, slivered

Method:
Peel the mangoes and chop them. Leave some finer pieces aside for the topping.
Add the powdered sugar to the drained curd and blend.
Transfer the curd to a bowl but leave some in the blender to be mixed with one mango.
Blend one mango with 1/2 tsp sugar and transfer to a bowl.
Blend the second mango with the addition of a bit of sugar. The second mango was darker in colour and sweeter so I used just a bit of sugar.
I wanted a lighter and darker layer in the glasses which is why I went through this process. Regular amarkhand will only need to be blended once. The curd with the mangoes.
Take three serving bowls/glasses.
Place 1 tbs of the pureed mango/curd mixture.
Place a layer of the sweetened curd.
Place another layer of mango and top that with chopped nuts, saffron and chopped mangoes. Chill for an hour before serving.

In this version I used saffron only for the topping. But it can be incorporated in the curd. In that case a teaspoonful of warm milk added to a pinch of saffron and crushed with the back of a spoon will do the needful.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Elaneer Pudding/Tender Coconut Pudding

Elaneer pudding/tender coconut pudding

I had seen recipes of this pudding on blogs but never made it. This dish comes from Kerala, the land of coconuts and is also made in certain areas of Tamil Nadu. The other day as we picked a few tender coconuts from my one and only tree, the thought of this dessert came to mind. I usually use coconut milk and the grated coconut is added to curries and cakes.
The harvest isn't as good as before but I'm glad I can still get a few coconuts from my tree. The dish I made didn't use gelatine or agar agar. This was inspired by Raks Kitchen.
Coconuts on my tree, the reduced milk and coconut water/tender pulp

Ingredients:
1 litre full fat milk
1/3 cup condensed milk
1/3 cup tender coconut pulp
1/2 cup tender coconut water
1 tsp ghee
A pinch of cardamom powder
10-15 cashew nuts
About 4 tbs thick coconut milk

Method:
Pour the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan and boil till it is reduced to half its quantity.
In my case I should have stopped a little earlier. The reduced milk was enough for three servings only.
Meanwhile chop up the pulp or put both water and pulp in a blender and grind coarsely.
Set aside a bit of the pulp for decoration.
Add the condensed milk to the reduced milk and give it a good stir.
Add the cardamom and mix well.
Let it come down to room temperature.
Add the coarsely ground mixture to the dish. Chill for a couple of hours.
Heat the ghee and fry the cashew nuts till they turn golden brown.
Divide the pudding between three serving bowls. Top with the reserved chopped pulp and scatter the fried nuts.
Take about two teaspoonfuls of thick coconut milk and pour on the surface of the dessert. The coconut milk also came from the same tree.:)

This is best served chilled. And it's best if consumed on the same day.
This is one dish I'll make again. It is so refreshing and I didn't make it really sweet. The combination of milk, a hint of sweetness, the cardamom, and the tender coconut.... is a magical combination.
There are many variations/additions to this dish. The next time I make it, I'll use more tender coconut. I had to make do with what I had at that point of time.

Thank you for stopping by today.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Date & Almond Cookies


This was a post in my draft list so it wasn't something I made recently. I haven't been very active here but on my Facebook page, I try to put in some time every single day.:)
The first time I made these cookies, I followed the recipe down to the last detail, This is from an old issue of BBC Good Food magazine.

Ingredients: 
11/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
8 tbsp, unsalted butter
3 tbsp iced water
3/4 cup pitted dates
1/3 cups almonds + extra to garnish
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of half an orange
1/2 tsp milk
2 tsp honey
The mixture
Method:
~Combine the flour and sugar. Mix well. I used a hand whisk.
Add the butter and mix till crumbly.
Drizzle the mixture with iced water.
Bring it together. Cover and chill for about 20 minutes.

~In a mixer, add the dates, almonds, the orange zest and juice. Pulse until coarsely ground.

~ Heat the oven to 170 C. Form 11/2 inch balls from the dough and flatten each into 2" discs. Place one heaped teaspoon of the filling on each. Fold in half into a semi-circle and press to flatten slightly. Repeat till the dough and filling are used up. Place each on a tray lined with a baking sheet with a distance of two inches in between.

~ Mix the milk and honey and brush over the cookies. Place one whole almond in the middle of the cookie. Press gently so that it's embedded in the dough.
Bake for about 20 minutes till golden brown.

~ Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and brush with the glaze again. Serve after  15 minutes or so.

These taste delicious with a cup of tea or coffee. When I made them for the first time (the first picture), they looked really good. But the second time (pictured above), I used my regular left-over pastry dough. Not great looks-wise but the taste was great!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Challah Bread

Challah bread
Fresh out of the oven challah
One particular bread on my mind was challah. According to Wiki, challah is a special ceremonial Jewish bread, usually braided, and eaten on Sabbath and other Jewish holidays.
Bread that has eggs, sugar and oil cannot taste anything besides delicious! With images of challah floating on cyberspace, I had to bake it. For the recipe, I checked out several sites before baking. One of my go-to sites is one that needs no introduction...The Kitchn.:)

Ingredients:
1 cup warm water
2 tsp yeast
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten + one yolk for the egg wash
4 cups flour (but another half cup must have gone in as I started kneading)
Time to divide the dough and braid 
In a large bowl add the water, yeast, vegetable oil, sugar and salt. Whisk till well-mixed. Then add the flour and bring it together.
Tip the contents on a lightly dusted surface and start kneading. I wouldn’t know anything about kneading the dough using a food processor because I do all the kneading by hand.
Knead for about 10-15 minutes.
When the dough becomes smooth and elastic, place it in the same bowl used earlier by greasing the bottom of the bowl with oil or butter.
Keep in a warm place and leave to rise till double in size.
Punch the dough gently and transfer to a floured surface. Cut into three equal sizes.
Roll the ropes lengthwise till you get even lengths.

Then start braiding. Many braided loves are done with four or six 'ropes' but I’m happy if I can do it with three.
Before the braiding gets done I always imagine that it will be a lovely braid but it’s easier said than done. Always.
Lift the braided bread on a tray lined with parchment paper.
Leave to rise for another thirty minutes.
I covered it with a large (inverted) bowl during this period.
Brush with the egg yolk (beaten) and bake in a preheated 180 C oven till golden. This will take about 30-35 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.
We had the bread for breakfast as well as a snack and I set about 10 slices aside for bread pudding. I left the crusts on as they created a pattern on the pudding. And to use home-baked bread for bread pudding is a good feeling.:)


The pudding was inspired by a TV series titled "The Incredible Spice Men" and this one has its fair share of nutmeg, cardamom, some cinnamon and saffron. The last came from my recent purchase from the saffron fields of Pampore in Kashmir.

The recipe for this pudding has been included in my earlier post. I also added some candied roses to the pudding. Here's the link:

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Paneer-stuffed Potol (Pointed Gourd)


A very popular summer vegetable in our parts is the pointed gourd. Locally known as potol, it is widely used in our dishes mainly fried, in curries or stuffed with potatoes. The other day I stuffed the same with paneer and cooked it in a thick gravy of onions and tomatoes. As long as summer lasts, this will be a pretty regular feature on our tables.
Ingredients:
15 pointed gourds (choose the rounded ones where more stuffing can go)

Cut off the ends of the pointed gourds and scrape off the dark green skin. If you don't like the skin, you can peel it off but I prefer to keep it on.
With a small knife or with the handle of a teaspoon, remove the seeds and flesh from the gourds. Set aside for another dish. For a potato stuffing, the innards can be added.
Rinse the gourds and set aside.
The filling:
200 grams paneer, crumbled
10-12 almonds, chopped
15-20 raisins, washed, patted dry and roughly chopped
A dash of salt
Freshly-grated black pepper to taste
Some chopped coriander
Oil to fry the stuffed gourds.

#Place the crumbled paneer in a bowl and add the rest of the stuffing ingredients. Mix well.
#Take each prepared gourd and stuff with this filling.
# Heat enough oil in a non-stick pan. Add the stuffed vegetables and fry on a medium flame in a couple of batches. 
#Turn twice or thrice during the process until the gourds are golden on all sides. I threw in a pinch of turmeric in the oil while the gourds went in.

For the gravy:
1 large onion, peeled and grated
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and ground
1 small piece of ginger, peeled and ground
2 tomatoes, blanched and ground in the blender
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin and coriander powder
A dash of turmeric powder
1 star anise
2 tejpatta
A pinch of freshly-made garam masala powder

Heat the same oil in which the stuffed vegetables were fried.
Throw in the star anise and tejpatta.
Add the onions, ginger and garlic. Cook till the raw smell goes off.
Add the rest of the powdered spices except the garam masala. Stir and add the tomato paste.
Cook till the oil separates. Add some water. This will depend on the kind of gravy you want. Mine was very thick.
Gently add the stuffed gourds to the gravy.
Let them cook on a low flame for a few minutes.
Add the garam masala and give it a stir.
Transfer the contents to a serving bowl and scatter some chopped coriander on top.
If you like you could add some crumbled paneer too.
This goes best with rice or rotis. 

The seeds/flesh of the gourds went into a curry with cauliflower stems on another day. Went very well with rice. A little bit of the paneer stuffing was left over. And that went into a paratha for breakfast.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tomato Shorba With Saffron Focaccia


East meets west in this simple meal. One is a hearty Indian soup referred to as shorba in the northern part of our country. And the other has its origins in Italy. This year my tomato plants took a beating as our garage floor had to be raised. I usually grow my plants next to the garage as there's any other space left. Work went on while I was away and many tomato plants were destroyed. I did get some green ones and a few ripe ones but that was about it. 
So when my husband's cousin turned up bearing a bagful of ripe home-grown tomatoes, I was over the moon! The first thing that I made was a tomato tart with left-over pastry dough. Several more went into butter chicken with store-bought tandoori chicken.:)
Tamatar ka shorba:
2 cups ripe tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped
1 red chilli, scored lengthwise, seeds intact
Salt to taste
Sugar for the balance
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
3-4 cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp paprika powder
1/2 tsp toasted and ground cinnamon powder
1 tejpatta
1 star anise
A few peppercorns
2 tbs vegetable oil
A quarter tsp cumin seeds

In a pressure cooker, add all the ingredients except the sugar, oil, and cumin seeds. Add a little more than a cup of water.
Let it cook for 4 whistles. I used a small pressure cooker.
After the steam goes off, open the lid. Discard the whole spices.
Blitz in a mixer. Check the seasoning and make adjustments.
Add the sugar, as per taste, and blitz again.
Transfer to a serving bowl.
Heat the vegetable oil in a pan.
Throw in the cumin seeds. Switch off the gas as soon as they sputter.
Pour this oil on the bowl of shorba.
Garnish with herbs. I used a bit of serrated coriander in this shorba.
There are quite a few variations in shorba recipes but I think this is also really good!


I came across this saffron focaccia recipe from a book by Martha Day. The dough is made in a food processor. But I knead with my hands for all the bread that I bake.
Ingredients:
Pinch of saffron strands
150 ml boiling water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp easy-blend yeast
1 tbsp olive oil

For the topping:
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 small onion cut into thin slices
rosemary sprigs
Some olives
1 tbsp olive oil
Infuse the saffron in the boiling water. Leave to cool till tepid.
Place the salt, yeast, flour and olive oil in a large bowl.
Make a well in the centre and add the saffron water.
Mix till the dough comes together then tilt the contents to a work surface and knead for 10-15 minutes.
Then place the dough in a bowl, cover and let it rise till double in size.
Punch down the risen dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a thick disc.
You could roll it in other shapes too. But I used a circular ceramic pie dish. This was lightly greased. The recipe had an oval bread.
Preheat the oven to 200 C.  Press indentations in the dough.
Set aside for 25-30 minutes. 
Cover with the topping ingredients, brush lightly with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes or till the loaf sounds hollow.
Leave to cool.

This was a lovely combination. And a first for me. In kitchen gardens it's the end of the season for tomatoes. They usually last till May but the rains came early this year . I can imagine a lot of households busy making use of the last tomatoes from their gardens. As for me I still have to make some sauce and some chutney.