Monday, December 27, 2010

Golden Almond Cake


    My belated Christmas wishes to you!  Just back from an ad hoc trip to the very beautiful and picturesque South Canara. Coffee and tea estates, the winding roads along the foggy Western ghats and the beautiful ancient temples brought back memories of my visit to these places as a kid. As my amused niece pointed out, most of the incidents I recalled had something to do with food. Not surprisingly, I happen to write a food blog. 

I was still debating about what I would bake for Christmas when my older sister called  to announce that we would all go on a trip very early the next morning. Which meant we would need to reach her place by evening so that we could start early. With the school closed for Christmas vacations, baking, taking pictures and blogging about it is a hair-tearing experience for me. Living in a tornado-swept house (well, a house which looks like one), my daughter constantly hovering around me or my kids at loggerheads with each other and me in a rush to pack up for an ad hoc trip is not the best of times to bake a cake for Christmas.

My personal copy of The Cake Bible arrived a few days ago. What a book to own with all those drool worthy cakes, the variety of frostings and cakes you can pair up to come up with your own unique creation, tips and understanding about the way things work in a particular recipe and so much more! I decided on this quick and easy cake which is delicious on its own without any frosting. The cake is super buttery, super moist, with a predominant almond taste and flavor. If you love buttery cakes and something you would want to make ahead for a picnic the next day, this one is for you to bake!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chocolate Mud Cake - By Divya Kudua

Here comes a very festive looking, super chocolaty Chistmas treat by Divya!  

 They say excuses are a waste of time,your friends don't need them and your enemies won't believe them. I definitely consider Suma as a dear bloggie pal and I hope she doesn't mind this long over due post.
It was a while back[more than 2-3 months I guess] that Suma e-mailed me and asked me for a guest post on her blog. She even kept the window open asking me to post anything which fancies me,though I couldn't ignore the *hint* on Cake. Now come on,for some one whose blog is named Cakes and More,what else can you bake??

Many things kept me from posting this on time. But I wouldn't get into all that,better late than never. I wanted the Cake to be Chocolatey and believe me,this one's full of it. Fudgy and gooey, this one could almost pose as a Brownie and you wouldn't know the difference!! Perfect with a scoop of Chocolate Ice-cream with some Chocolate sauce on top with some toasted nuts. Ah, I could grab that plate and go into Chocolate Nirvana. Suma, here it is for you and I hope with this one I've made up for being such a Late Lateef!! I almost felt guilty eating this when I actually made it for you!!

For someone who is crazy about Chocolate Cakes,this is the perfect answer. It has an intense Chocolate flavor, elevated by the coffee powder added into it and the resultant cake is definitely a show stopper. It is good on its own but you could drizzle some Ganache on top or even a simple chocolate glaze. I wouldn't recommend icing this cake since it would make it much more sweeter and will take away from the chocolatey taste which is the backbone of this cake. I halved the original recipe and got an 8' round cake. You could double the recipe and bake it in a rectangular tray if you are baking it as a dessert for a party.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fruit Chaat

Doesn't this remind you of the spicy pineapple / cucumber / raw mango slices sold on the streets here? Slices of these slathered with the spicy green masala and given on a piece of plantain leaf accompanied by a piece of newspaper so thoughtfully given to help you wipe your sticky hands.  Few shopping expeditions are complete without having this snack I relish so much. And I ask for a extra spicy version, which which will have me scurrying towards the nearest juice center. 

Oh, I love to gorge on this fruit / veggie masala, chana-chur, chaat specially on Commercial Street. I love to eat jowar rotis served with spicy chutney and brinjal masala when I am in or around Gandhi Bazaar, of course, the masala dosa at Upahaar Darshni . Filter coffee at Pavithra, Jayanagar 4th Block, the yumm stuff at Coffee House now on Church Street, parathas and dal at Bobby's Dhaba, Ulsoor... the list goes on and on. Which is your favorite street food and your favorite small eatery? Tell me about it!

Aren't we often left with a pile of fresh fruit post festivals or functions at home or post the visit of that very generous guest who gifts a fruit basket with just enough fruit to see you through the next two weeks? So, the next time, an assortment of fruit rains on you, give the predictable custard or fruit cream a miss and try this wholesome, quick and spicy  Fruit Chaat. All it takes is just an assortment of fruit and some mint-coriander masala and you have a really healthy and quick chaat.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Divya Kudua's Guest Post

Divya Kudua of Easycooking needs no introduction in the blogosphere. But I will always remember her as one of the first visitors from the blog world on my blog.  I had then hopped on to Easycooking and was amazed seeing the sheer variety of recipes there. More amazed as she is someone who started to learn cooking only after getting married. And for someone who was not much into the kitchen route, her passion for cooking and baking and the kind of dishes she has on her repertoire leaves me dazed. And for someone who started the culinary journey just a few years ago,  her writing a blog as fabulous as Easycooking is extremely commendable.  Kudos Divya!! You really are an inspiration to many of us, particularly those who take new steps into the culinary world.
I have been a regular reader of her blog and love her writing, her sense of humor and of course her recipes and eye-catching pictures. Was, am, was a believer that a microwave is not really the best gadget for baking (I bake in an OTG), but had to change my mind after reading her review on the subject on Chef In You. Seeing the kind of bakes and cakes she has dished up, am now actually beginning to consider buying a convection microwave myself! Tiramisu Cake, Condensed Milk Pound Cake , Strawberry Cream Gateau, Hot Milk Sponge Cake, Orange And Chocolate Chunk Muffins , Paneer Ghee Roast would be on the top of my personal favorite recipes from her blog. Easycooking has also been my introduction to Konkani cuisine.

I had requested her for a guest post and she has been really sweet in dishing up something drool-worthy  and in accordance with my preference (hint, hint:-). So here comes shortly, Divya's guest post on Cakes and More! Thanks so very much Divya!! Here's wishing wishing my blogger friend and Easycooking all the very best!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

I baked my first real bundt cake! It would take another baker to understand how absurdly happy you can be to get a new baking tin, pages from an old, tattered baking book, good yeast,  good quality butter paper or that favorite brand of cocoa, a cake you got right after that miss, a new favorite recipe or that tiny bottle of almond extract. Am sure you would agree with me on this. I was as excited as a kid on two counts. Baking in my new bundt pan for the first time and a  new recipe I tried with an ingredient I have never used before in a cake. Cream cheese! Yep, we do not get an ingredient labeled as such here, but to my delight , discovered that our desi paneer or cottage cheese works very well as a substitute. 

I have baked quite some chocolate cakes and bakes recently, so was hunting for a good vanilla bundt cake recipe and finally found this recipe on Deb's Smitten Kitchen, a wonderful blog if you are into baking. Books can no doubt give lots of great recipes, but blogs allow you to read so much more into a recipe. I specially love blogs which tell you how to do things in detail...and Deb has done just that. Thanks so much Deb! The cake tasted like nothing I have eaten before, the texture totally new to me.. spooky soft, crumbly, powdery sort of, a bit dense... am not really able to describe this right. I sincerely hope I turned out the cake as its supposed to turn out!! But what I can tell you for sure is this is one cake I liked, a lot actually:-). For the very different texture and the amazing flavor . If you want to try baking something different and yumm, try baking this Cream Cheese Bundt Cake. You will be in for a surprise and a very delicious one at that...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cakes And More Turns One Shortly! An Announcement And A Giveaway!!!

Cakes And More turns one on 10th January!!

At the outset, my sincere and heartfelt thanks to all my readers for visiting my blog,  the encouraging comments and keeping me motivated! 

Allow me to tell you how I started this blog. One of my colleagues suggested that I write a baking blog, hubby gave me a big thumbs-up, gave the final push to reluctant me when he wrote the first two sentences of my first post and then handed over CAM to me. Then I started writing in a frenzy, pulling out all my treasured old cake pictures from my Picasa album...amused hubby tried to temper my enthusiasm as I wrote 22 posts in the first month(my highest so far).  Wrote the first 10 posts or so then messaged my friends at midnight with my blog URL. I wanted something there when they read my blog:-)).

And am I so glad I started blogging! Almost a year and a modest hundred plus posts, I am a happy baker- blogger. As I keep saying, learning so many new things, knowing people who share the same passion, people who I can actually ask 'Hey, what's baking today?' has been a rewarding outcome. Am so much in awe of all those wonderful blogs and bloggers out there, looking forward to more and more of this enriching experience... I have resolved to keep up my daily walk routine, keep everyday food more healthier and share the major portion of my bakes...for the joy of sharing with others, the joy of baking for me:-).

The response to the section Baking Supplies And Ingredients In Bangalore (now with Google maps) has been overwhelming.  Am so very happy to see such enthusiasm and get support from baking enthusiasts in my endeavor to help grow the baking community,  in Bangalore particularly. Looking forward to your continued support. Suggestions for improvement in this area most welcome.

Three Cheers to home-baking and may the passionate home-bakers tribe increase!

Now, coming to the event and giveaway announcement, shall we call this as Bakeomania!!?  I will be giving away this wonderful book, which every baker would love to own.

Yes!! The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum! Gorgeous cake recipes, fillings and frostings you can pair them up with, decorating cakes and so much more!!

What you would need to do to get a chance to have this book on your shelf...

1.Bake Anything - A gorgeous cake, a fluffy bread, mouth-watering cookies, tempting desserts or decadent pies and post it on your blog. 

2. Please leave a comment here, blog about this giveaway with a link up to this announcement between today and 8th January 2011.

3. I will be accepting only vegetarian recipes as this is a vegetarian blog, eggs are allowed though.

4. Lets please keep the entries fresh and original. If you have baked from another blog or source, please make a mention and provide a link to the same wherever applicable.

5. Non-bloggers most welcome to participate, please leave a comment here and mail me your entries with the recipe details and a picture by 8th January 2011. Mail to suma dot rowjee at gmail dot com.

6. Multiple entries allowed.

7. This book will be shipped to any address in India. 

8. The winner of the giveaway will be announced on 10th January.

Could you please take a moment to tell me what you like about this blog, suggestions for improvement, in terms of recipes, the posts per se or just about anything. I would really, really  appreciate this.  And do mail me for any queries.

So switch on your ovens, get baking, put your best foot.. oooops.. bake forward!! Good luck!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eggless Buttermilk Chocolate Cookies - Chewy, Chocolicious....Yummmax!!!

I must tell you about  these chocolaty, chocolate packed, super delicious cookies I baked !! Fudgy, chewy centers, crisp edges, chocolate in very bite, I just fell in love with these little things. The best part is, these are also very easy to make.  Trust me, if you are a new baker and looking for that simple yet awesome cookie recipe which will win you compliments, look no further. Here is one for you.

Wanted to bake some cookies to send to a cousin of mine who was leaving home to begin her career in another town. And what better than a piece of chocolate indulgence to make sure her otherwise boring journey is a made a tad more interesting and yumm. My cousins absolutely loved them and my Aunt who normally dislikes chocolate also ate them!!

This recipe is from Baking Bites and as Nicole says, you may be a little more partial to these cookies when it comes to your favorite cookies. And Nicole, as you said, I just could not stop at eating one, when these little things came out of the oven. Actually, I popped quite a few of these into my mouth, I won't tell you how many, I don't remember how many;-), I am still trying to resist eating the few I have hidden away. Yep, I found them really irresistible, being a huge chocoholic myself.

I know you want to bake these now, so without much more talk lets head straight for the recipe.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Garlic Knots

   When Madhuri first showed me these on Annie's Eats, I was drooling like a baby. And when she made these delicious buns and posted them on her blog, ooh-ed and aah-ed over them, I had to, had to try these out and soon. I find the aroma of butter and garlic irresistible in breads and can gleefully (read greedily) eat a whole baguette all by myself ;-). Just the copious amounts of fat drizzled or smeared on the ones available at stores put me off. But now that I am beginning to learn the A of the ABC of baking bread, there was just no stopping me from baking these Garlic Knots at home. And what awesome buns these made! I had baked these in the morning so that we could eat these with soup for dinner, but was left with very little of the buns by evening. Hubby complained that they got over too soon, I baked this as a loaf yesterday again! Talk about people finding excuses to bake!

Fantastic in taste and texture, slightly salty, these make the perfect, perfect company to your hearty bowl of steaming soup. Serve these warm with veggie loaded soup and a large salad, and you will eat your scrumptious and hearty winter evening meal without any guilt what so ever.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocolate Filled Brioche Buns By Champa

Here comes the best bread on this blog - by Champa! These amazing brioche buns with chocolate inside them are truly delightful. Buttery, chocolaty and so airy, this elevates the humble bread to the status of a dessert.  I am for sure going to try these out sometime very soon.  Thanks so much for this post Champa, am so very glad to have it  here. Without much further ado, lets read what the Bangalore Baker has to say.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Eggless Coffee Walnut Cookies

                    Coee smeCoffee LOVE, LOVE COFFEE!! I love nuts. And these two together is one of those matches made in heaven. Like orange and dark chocolate, chocolate and nuts, coffee and cream, coffee and chocolate.

Baking cookies is something I very rarely do. If you have noticed, this is the second cookie in a year I am posting on this blog.  It's not that I don't love cookies, its just the thought of rolling, cutting out the dough batch by small batch, that puts me off. If you have baked cookies in a small oven you will know what I mean. I baked cookies today after a long time and delicious ones at that! Am so happy! I made some of these Eggless Coffee Walnut Cookies which I had bookmarked from Deeba's blog(That leaves just the rest of those utterly gorgeous cakes and bakes on the uber gorgeous Passionate About Baking, left to be baked:) What an inspiring thought!!.  

This recipe is a very simple and quick as it involves using butter straight out of the fridge, no creaming the butter, no rolling and cutting out cookies. And it was quite easy to make, the results... yuu..mmm...If you are someone (like me) who shies away from baking cookies for the effort involved or need a quick to put-together batch of nutty, coffee rich, aroma filled cookies, this is just the recipe for you. Thanks so much Deeba for this lovely keeper of a recipe.

This recipe is from PAB, original recipe from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert. This book supposedly has simple but sensational desserts so it gets added to my growing wish list of baking books.

Ingredients:  Weigh all ingredients for best results. This is important for the best texture.

All-Purpose Flour/maida – 260 grams
Walnuts, chopped – 100 grams (roughly chopped)
Sugar – 3/4 cup / 150 grams
Salt – 1/4 teaspoon
Unsalted butter – 170 grams, chilled and  cut into cubes
Instant coffee- 2-3 teaspoons to taste. (Bake your first batch with 2 teaspoons, add more next time)
Vanilla extract - 1/2 teaspoon
Coffee beans – 40-50 to put on top. 

Hand method to mix dough
  • Grind the walnuts, sugar, salt, and flour together in small batches in the smallest jar of your mixer. If you have a food processor, you can fit it with a metal blade and pulse till the walnuts are finely ground.  We need to grind the nuts such that is really fine but not oily or pasty, this is very important. Watch my video on grinding nuts for tips, link at the end of the post. 
  • Take all of the flour mixture in a very large bowl or on your counter. Add the chilled butter and cut into the flour mixture (as in pie crust), I use a chilled metal dough scraper to do this and this method works well for me. You can also use a pastry blender.
  • It will look kind of dryish, but do not be tempted to add any liquid. The mixture will come together just fine if you have weighed your ingredients correctly. If absolutely needed, add 1 teaspoon milk. 
  • Once all the butter is cut in, knead the mixture very briefly and gently to make it smooth. 
  • Do not work the mixture too much or knead too much, the cookies will not be as light.
Food processor method to mix dough
  • Put the walnuts, flour, sugar, coffee, and salt in a food processor & pulse until walnuts are finely ground.
  • Add chilled butter & pulse again till breadcrumb like mixture forms.
  • Add the vanilla extract & pulse just until the dough begins to form clumps around the blade.
  • Take out and pull together to form a dough; knead briefly to make smooth.
  • Do not work the mixture too much or knead too much, the cookies will not be as light.
To proceed :  
  • You can either roll and cut the cookies or slice them. 
  • If planning to roll, divide the dough into 4 portions. Flatten each portion into a square, wrap in cling film and chill overnight or at least 2 hours. 
  • The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen well wrapped at this point. 
  • To make slice and bake cookies (this is easier), divide the dough into 4 portions and roll into logs. Wrap in cling film and chill overnight or at least for 2-3 hours. It is much easier to work with a well-chilled dough.
Bake the cookies
  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C / 375 degrees F.
  • Line your cookies sheets with baking parchment
  • You can also use ungreased cookie trays. The dough has quite a lot of butter and oil from the walnuts so the release will not be a problem.
  • Take one log out at a time, using a sharp knife, slice 1/4″ apart. Push a coffee bean firmly in the center of each cookie. If your cookies do not get a good round shape when sliced, just shape it holding it gently but firmly and shape it against your palm)
  • Place the cookies 1 inch apart 
  • If rolling, take one portion of the dough. If it is too firm to roll easily, leave it on the counter for 10 minutes. Keep the dough between two sheets of parchment and roll evenly using gentle pressure. I have rolled my dough fairly thin, about 5mm. 
  • Cut the cookies into shapes, transfer to the baking sheet. Re-roll the scraps and use, chilling in between as needed. 
  • If you have to use flour on the counter to roll the cookies, use just a light dusting or the cookies will be dry. 
  • Bake for about 10-12 minutes till the cookies are light brown in color. Bake a test batch of 2 cookies, that will tell you the approximate baking time. 
  • Your house will now be smelling gorgeous, filled with the aroma of coffee and butter. So, the cookies may get you sudden visiting neighbors ;-)
  • The baking time may vary slightly depending on the thickness of the cookies and your oven. Try to keep the cookies size uniform and keep watching closely for the first batch. 
  • The cookies will feel slightly soft (but not too soft) when they are done. They will continue to cook and harden slightly on the cookie tray when removed from the oven, so take care not to overbake or they will become too hard.
  • Once the cookies are done, remove the tray from the oven, allow the cookies to cool on the tray for a minute. Once cool, gently remove from the tray.
  • Cool completely on cookie racks. Store in airtight tins.

    These cookies are supposed to stay good for a month. Well, we may not be able to test this at all as its highly unlikely that these cookies will remain uneaten for so long!

Watch my video on grinding nuts. 

You can also subscribe to my channel on YouTube. Click to subscribe now!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Champa's Guest Post On My Blog

SHE IS IN LOVE WITH YEAST, big time! And yeast loves her to submission. You get the picture..You give her a set of ingredients and she will transform it into a wonderful loaf. In all the 5 plus years she has been baking breads,  there have been only a couple of occasions when she has bought bread from the store. Can you beat this??

She is an extremely efficient homemaker, mother of two little girls and an IT professional who works from home - out of her kitchen to be precise. Yes, she writes SQL programmes in her huge kitchen while her breads and cakes bake.

She has over 280 recipes  in her more than a year old blog, recipes from breads to mousses, cakes, cookies, desserts, Indian recipes etc and a series on cake decorating as well. She is a certified Wilton cake decorator to boot!! She has a voracious appetite for baking and she has a whopping collection of over 100 cooking and baking books. Her passion for baking, breads in particular is very inspiring. So many people (me included) find working with yeast intimidating and Champa has inspired so many of us to strike up a camaraderie with the yeast beast, introducing us to the pleasure of baking gourmet bread at home.

She would, in her college days, travel in a bus instead of an auto, just so that she could eat the Aloo buns at the bakery. Hahaha, now isn't she is a true, true foodie? Her zest for baking is really commendable. Even when she was advised bed rest during her pregnancy and allowed to stand only for short periods of time at intervals, she has managed to bake bread!

I love her blog, Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen for all those wonderful breads she has out there, the accuracy of the recipes, the helpful tips and possible variations for the same she suggests. Though almost all her breads are bookmarked, some of my must tries are Aloo Buns, Fatless Banana Choco Chip Bread, Whole Wheat Orange Cranberry bread, Sweet Ricotta Loaf, Vegan Whole Wheat Bread, Cream Cheese Sweet bread.. the list goes on and on...I love her extremely versatile basic white bread recipe which you would have seen here.

This lady, with the golden touch for baking breads has been my source of inspiration for getting started and keeping me going with yeast , a new but a acquaintance. Thanks so much Champa, keep baking, keep inspiring !!

I know, you are off to her blog now, but do come back for a drool-worthy, inspiring recipe from the Bangalore Baker shortly.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Lalit Ashok, Food Tasting And Foodie Blogger Friends... Jab We Finally Met !

 When Deeba sent me a message on FaceBook if I had a list of Bangalore Food Bloggers, excitement shook off my post-lunch languor.  I managed to make a small list and mailed it to Deeba..she quickly put me in touch with Tinky, PR Executive, Perfect Relations, a company which is into image management . Was thrilled to get an invite to the 2nd Brand Anniversary Celebrations of the LaLit Suri Hospitality Group. This included an invite to the Golf Tournament at the Bangalore Golf Course, dinner and Food Bloggers event at the OKO, the Pan Asian roof top restaurant. The Lalit Ashok, needs absolutely no introduction, being one the oldest and very famous 5 Star hotels in Bangalore.

A meet for Bangalore food bloggers was too good an opportunity to miss. After all, not everybody can relate to food obsession and passion more than fellow bloggers can... don't you agree?? And bonding over good food, in a great setting is something, me as a true-blue foodie can never resist. Food, I sincerely believe, is the best way to bond. I was sure there were more bloggers than what I had in  my list. Madhuri of Cook-Curry Nook very efficiently provided me with the details of more bloggers and  we had a list of about 30 plus Bangalore food bloggers. All women!! (Apologies if I have missed anybody here!). Unfortunately, due to short notice and prior commitments, the majority could not make it and it was just a handful of us finally turning up. Hope to meet the rest of the community some time soon.

Having interacted only virtually so far, we finally met!!!! And what a whale of a time we had...

This will sound like a paragraph from of a newspaper...from left to right, that's me, Shubhada of Shubhada 123's Blog, Madhuri of  Cook-Curry Nook, Ramya of Mane Adige and Geeta of The Fragnant Kitchen.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tomato Bread


My bag of CSN goodies arrived!  I got it from Champa, who played my Santa in the month of July. This was part of this giveaway she did here. Thanks so much Champa!! I am gonna have a blast with all my new toys!!

I am steadily falling in love with yeast.  And tasting success with bread- literally, has made me more of a compulsive and obsessed baker, now more than ever...the biggest bonus being baking without much guilt. Have started loving the heady aroma of bread baking in the oven, love it even more when people say my home smells like a a little jig when my daughter says, she wants the bread I baked and not the one from the packet!!! Yaaayy!!! Breads - You are going to be on my table more often:))

 My family would dread the thought of me baking bread on a week end as our outings were determined by yeast . Yes!! The yeast not proofing well enough, the dough taking hours to rise (and twice at that!!) and me refusing to go out till the fate of the bread was decided, has driven my poor hubby and kids nuts:) The initial days of yeast-will-proof-will-not-proof are thankfully over with me discovering this brand of instant yeast called Gloripan. Touchwood!! If you are in Bangalore and struggling with different brands of yeast, do give this brand a try, in all probabilities you will be glad you did!
My goodie bag had arrived in Bangalore and it had to be picked up by my Man Friday. I badly wanted to bake a bread and in the new tin. So in the hope that  I would surely get the tin in a couple of hours, I started baking bread in my mind. But Man Friday had to be sent on a more urgent errand. 

My big handicap is, I don't drive or rather I am not proud of my driving skills. I will be happy to take care of two bickering kids in the back seat rather than drive. You can figure out, am not someone who loves to drive. But I just could not wait till the next day to bake. So I decided to bake in my old tin and set about the process... and surprise!! The goodie bag arrived just in time when my dough was ready to go into the oven!! At the same instant beeped the school bus with my daughter in it!!! Help!! Requested Man Friday to keep the kiddo busy for 10 minutes so that the tin could go into the oven ASAP. Rummaged through the bag, found the tin, washed it, dried it and whew!! In went my Tomato Bread!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tomato Bisi Uppinakayi - Instant Tomato Pickle


Bisi Uppinakayi literally means hot pickle or instant pickle. A spicy (duh! as if you did not know!) tongue-tickling, delicious preparation made with hing, ground mustard and roasted methi powder and  veggies. The veggies most often being tomatoes, tender goose-berries, raw mangoes or tender fresh tamarind. Hey, grab that tissue, I know that you are drooling like a baby now!! Yeah, now back to Tomato Bisi Uppinakayi.  

This is a very common dish at most Madhwa homes in North Karnataka. And of course at weddings and functions too. When we were kids, going to a family function would mean gorging on all the delicious food at the venue and carrying home some bisi-uppnakayi, rasam and the specialty sweets made by the caterers. The caterers would be people associated with the families since generations and would tell us tales about how their fathers and grand-fathers had cooked for our fathers and grand-fathers. One of these 'family' caterers had nick-named me as 'bubble-gum' , thanks to my chubby cheeks:-). He calls me the same even now!! lol!  

Some common spices you will find in Madhwa homes are methi powder, mustard powder, and  plain huli-pudi ( a mix of fenugreek seeds, coriander and jeera) apart form the regular sambar, rasam and vangi bhath powders.  This pickle makes a superb companion to hot rice or chapatis. Its very easy and quick to make specially if you have mustard powder and methi powder in your fridge. 

Read on to know how you can have this on your plate for your next meal!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jaffa Drizzle Loaf Cake

A cake or a dessert or a bread or something else for my the beginning of my next 100 posts(hopefully!!)?? Briefly I pondered over this (unnecessarily) and not-surprisingly the cake won!

Its the onset of the winter season and I am looking forward to it for more reasons than one. Love the nip in the air, eating piping hot soup, spicy chaat, warm & tender corn on the cob, eating ice-creams wearing woolens (me, not the ice-cream!), the Christmassy feeling when I step into the streets, falling asleep on the couch blissfully when I am watching television (the warmth of the blanket invariably does that to me!) and watching all the baking shows aired during Christmas of course. 

Can expect to see oranges everywhere, in abundance and at not-atrocious prices.  I am gonna have an orange party extending to the whole of winter.. I love, love citrus and in a big way!! It ain't any news, can hear you say:-)... going by the way I keep trying out recipes with oranges every now and then.  Oranges which look like they have spent most of their life in a cold storage don't appeal to me and neither do I fancy paying through my nose for them. I sometimes make do with sweet lime when a recipe calls for oranges. And it works just fine for me. And in this is what I used for the Jaffa Drizzle Loaf Cake when I could not find good oranges at short notice.

 This cake is a gorgeous, gorgeous orange cake baked as a loaf, soaked in orange juice when the cake is still warm in the tin, then drizzled with melted chocolate. It made one wonderful dessert when eaten immediately once cooled. If citrus is your flavor and you are looking for a super easy and impressive winter dessert, there is one here you ought to try!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Queen of Sheba Cake - My 100th Post!!!

HAVE REASON TO CELEBRATE!!! This is my 100th post!!! I can't believe I wrote a 100 posts!! Thanks to support from family, friends and you all for reading my blog and keeping me going with your encouraging comments... Looking forward to your support throughout this immensely enjoyable, enriching journey...

A special cake for this milestone - Queen Of Sheba Cake. Originally a French gateau called Gateau de la Reine Saba, this is supposedly named after the African Queen of Sheba. The reason for this I could not figure out though:-). But what I could surely figure out was this is one cake fit for a queen. Rich, dense, moist, chocolaty, made of ground almonds, butter and melted chocolate. Topped with rich chocolate ganache, you would have to be a saint to stop at eating just one slice. Famous Chef and author Julia Child, is said to have made this cake even more famous.

I would have to admit, I am not very sure if the texture of the cake turned out as it is meant to be in this particular gateau. I will also be very immodest and say that this cake was undoubtedly one of the best tasting chocolate cakes I have eaten. You can call it a Ferrero Rocher in a cake. Nutty and chocolaty and yumm... the kind of cake you will want to slowly eat and savor.  If you are a chocolate lover, this will be among your most treasured recipes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Low Fat Pista Kulfi With Low Fat Khoya - Indian Pistachio Ice Cream

Kulfi -the ever popular milk based frozen dessert of India . Dense, oh-so-creamy with a granular texture  with nuts added in sometimes. Milk is simmered over low heat, the reduced, thickened and sweetened milk flavored and frozen in kulfi molds or the traditional matkas (small earthen pots). Traditional flavors like cardamom, saffron, malai , rose and mango are always on the menu of joints selling these frozen treats. Thanks to our ever creative chefs, we have refreshing flavors like orange, strawberry, mocha, cranberry, chocolate and a zillion other combinations.

I know, the way I have been getting you to fantasize about this dessert, you would think I am going to start a kulfi-retailing chain. Nope, am not. Just got a little carried away having savored my allowed bite of the wonderful Pistachio Kulfi, one of my all time favorites. I attribute some of the kilos I have gained to the many kulfis I have blissfully eaten at Sreeraj Lassi Bar, one of the most famous lassi joints in Bangalore.

Hubby had got a huge packet of pistachios from his trip to Muscat recently and I have finished quite some part of it making the chocolaty, melt-in-the-mouth Pistachio-Chocolate Fudge . Have been noticing that the packet in the freezer is getting smaller and smaller by the day. Hubby and kids are seen lurking around the fridge quite often and I can't let my precious pistachios totally disappear without making this favorite dessert of mine.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chips Nu Shaak / Batata Nu Shaak And An Award

Yummy name for a dish right?? I don't know anybody who doesn't love taters. You can seldom go wrong with them. Which makes the humble potato a great choice when entertaining people, particularly when you are not sure about their preferences. Nine out of ten times, when I ask my kids to guess what they would get to eat at a meal, they chorus potato curry!! So all I need to do to make my kids happy is make a potato curry with some rasam and rice.

Hubby is not much of a rasam person, though he will not mind a bit eating it with a very generous serving of potato palya. Well, I wouldn't mind either.. piping hot rasam with hot steamed rice, some ghee and plenty of potato palya. Aahh... heaven!!

This extremely versatile vegetable finds its home in baskets in most Indian homes. What life savers these can be when you have no other veggies on hand!  A look at the menu of  a dhabha can give you quite a number of combination this vegetable can be cooked in:-) Unlike a lot of other vegetables, this one can be cooked directly in the pressure cooker or microwave without even chopping. Well, peeling hot potatoes in a hurry is another story and I have scalded my fingers many a times, trying to do this in the morning rush hour.

 A culturally rich and diverse country like ours has innumerable ways of cooking potatoes among hundreds of other things that is. This is a Gujarati dish called Chips Nu Shaak or Batata Nu Shaak.

I think this dish is traditionally cooked only in oil, which helps it keep fresh for a day or two outside the fridge too.  Supposedly a perfect accompaniment with theplas while travelling. Reminds me of the tall multi-compartment lunch boxes filled with a variety of yummy food which Gujaratis carry on long train journeys. Boxes replete with rotis, subjis, dal, rice, farsan, pickles and dessert too!!! How many times, I have felt so envious of those guys, having gourmet food on journeys too, while we would eat our humble puliogare, curd-rice-pickle / chapati-curry/   sitting just across the seat. Sigh!! Have a heart people!! Its tough to tear eyes away from such sights or close your nose to the delicious wafting aromas.

I loved this recipe for its sheer simplicity and quite unique taste. It is also very delicious, and on its way to becoming a regular on our dining table.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Butter Sponge Cake

The name reminds me of the cake I had eaten a couple of times as a kid,  from a famous bakery by the name Butter Sponge in Bangalore. There is one by the same name now, am not sure if its the same one though.  Naive me had then thought that the vanilla loaf cake was a bread and how amazed I was by the super delicious tasting 'bread'. But back then, in our sleepy hometown, even cakes sold in the bakeries did not hold much appeal as they were too sweet or were slathered with the over sweet, greasy butter cream..aaagh!!! So it was not all that of a pleasure to eat cakes. We would prefer eating the other savory stuff on the few occasions we would eat bakery stuff.... If we can't get fat eating cakes, let us get fat eating puffs... makes sense right?? lol!!

I had bought a baking book from a railway platform while traveling almost 8 years ago. I did not have an oven , but would just read the book now and then. I have baked a couple of cakes from this book before I got seduced by the glossy glamorous books. The author calls this cake a Butter Sponge Cake and I was tempted to try this out to see if the results would be as good as the name sounds. And I must say, though it was not a buttery butter sponge, it made a delicious, wonderfully light textured tea cake.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Orange Bread

Well, yes, you could say I am on a 'caking' break. Cakes and More hasn't seen a cake this month, the 'More' taking up the space happily. I have baked a couple of cakes, but nothing new, so nothing to blog about.
With the son becoming more chubby, me on a diet, the hubby on an enforced diet (enforced by yours truly, without any doubt) whatever cakes I bake, is restricted to a slice or two for the kids and the rest shared with neighbors, and friends. Well, the itch to bake a new cake will soon resurface and I promise a shining new cake here soon...

I have been trying out breads, the healthier way to scratch the baking itch. Baking breads, I must tell you, has been like an edge-of-the-seat thriller in a way. You guessed it -Yeast features in this one. If you live in India, trying to learn baking bread with our locally available dried-active yeast, you can relate to my banter here. My inexperience apart,  poor quality of yeast has been a contributing factor to the 'Ooops' factor in my breads. I have had to discard the yeast mixture 4 times on one occasion as the yeast did not quite proof..oops, rise to the occasion. So while my yeast is proofing, I pace back and forth, will it froth well within the critical 10 minutes, or will I have to start all over again..?? The 'phoren' yeast is supposed to be much more potent, it WILL froth for sure in 10 minutes and froth even when close to the expiry date. Guys in the US and elsewhere - how I envy you!!

I will be getting my bag of goodies from the US shortly and you bet yeast is going to be one of them. My sister got me a packet of instant yeast called Gloripan from General Food Additives, Seshadripuram. I was so excited,  I just had to fit in baking a bread on the same day as I had to bake 3 cakes in my 14 liter OTG for a celebration in our office. And am I over the moon the yeast proofed its worth:-)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Low Fat Microwave Potato Wafers

A serious foodie on a serious diet is good news to the rest of the weight-watching foodie clan. Now tell me you don't agree with me!! At the cost of being repetitive, we foodies gotta eat good grub, even on a diet. I for one can never remember a time when I have felt like not eating, save just a couple of times(thankfully!!) when I was carrying my son. I want to shamelessly tell you that my appetite remains normal even when I am angry or sad. Or unwell.  Really!! As a kid I remember asking my Mom to prepare Pudina Raitha, Huli Nucchu( a kind of porridge) etc whenever I was unwell. But eat well, I surely would:-). I dread times when I fall sick when I am not in my kingdom, my home. People tend to automatically assume that since I am not well, I may not have a normal appetite. When the truth is I feel like eating more than I would normally eat - raised BMR due to higher body temperature or something. Sad situation now, isn't it?? 

When I was a kid, if my Dad sensed I was angry, he would first ask me if I had eaten. If the answer was negative, he would insist that I first eat and then we talk about whatever was my grouse. Now hubby follows suit and it works. Well, most of the times:-)). Point to be noted, a hungry me - not a pleasant person to live with. Me on a pleasantly full tummy- hey can take on the world!! 

I have knocked off about 6 kgs recently and have another 4-5 kgs to go before I end the last weight-loss programme in my life ever. (Hope I don't ever say this in another post anytime in the future). If you have been on a diet, you would know, its quite difficult to sustain the motivation to resist eating junk for prolonged periods. And low fat /zero fat versions like these Low Fat Microwave Potato Wafers can be real saviors when the craving for potato chips hits!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Guest Post On Nachiketa's Blog - And An Award

'Dessert Crazy' gets a new definition when you meet Nachiketa! What else would you say when someone works a really really hectic schedule, travels half way across the city to reach office, comes back home to bake 265 brownies till morning?? She baked sugar-free brownies as 'prasad'. You are amazed now aren't you?? If you haven't done so already, do drop by Nachiketa's blog to drool over a really huge array of - desserts - of course!!  

She invited me to write a guest post for her and I was happy to do it for her. Hop on to her blog to see my guest post here. Thank you so much Nachiketa!!

This is a guest post for Nachiketa of The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts - Nachiketa. You can also Catch her on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts Join her page and leave a comment to become eligible for her special Giveaway prize.

 Am very happy to have received an award from Sayantani who blogs at A Homemaker's Diary. Thank you so very much Sayantani!! Its been great to know you and virtually feast on the delicious Bengali spread you dish up. Hope to meet up sometime soon!!

 Its my turn to pass on the award, something I find it an extremely tough thing to do, given the number of inspiring blogs and amazing bloggers around.The award is passed on to

1.Champa Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen
2. Mallika  Veg Bowl 
3. Madhuri Cook-Curry Nook 
4. Jyothi Panchpakwan
5. Radhika Food For 7 Stages Of Life
6. Spice SpiceBuds
7. Nachiketa The Variable- Crazy Over Desserts
8. Shweatha Experiments,Emotions,Experiences With Food

Please do accept!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Low Fat Milk Ganache - Cheat To Indulge!!

Do you believe in low-fat food? My answer is yes and no. I believe only in relatively low fat food. Oh yep, let me apologize at the beginning of this post if I sound like a sermonizing dietitian, since I am not one. A dietitian I mean:-). Having a tendency to gain weight easily, lose it slowly, a couple of lessons I learnt during the course of weight loss are something I am not going to forget in a hurry.

One of those lessons is, its NOT fine to eat as much food as you like as long as it is healthy, when you are on a weight loss programme. This is applicable specially to sweets and desserts which are usually made with All Purpose Flour or Maida as the main ingredient, are loaded with sugar and at least some quantity of fat thrown in. Well, sometimes the sugar is replaced with an artificial sweetener or honey or jaggery making this a 'healthy and sugar free' sweet. Honey and jaggery may have more nutritional value as compared to sugar, but honey they are definitely not calorie free!! And when you eat a sugar-free dessert, your calories from sugar are reduced in the dessert, but the calories and fat from other ingredients in the dessert are not zapped away!!!

The point I am trying to communicate is, be vary of  low fat food. Its great to eat low fat food, but is really helpful only when you eat the same in normal or small quantities and only as frequently as you are allowed to indulge. Do not binge on low fat food as you will not lose weight. If you have to lose weight, you have to create a calorific deficit. This is created when you take in less calories as compared to the calories you burn. That is when you can lose weight. That is the reason you are supposed to eat even vegetables and salads in the prescribed quantities as as advised by your dietitian. And end of my boring little speech..

So, ladies and gentlemen.. prehsenting.. a relatively Low Fat Ganache which I insist you try for sure, but treat yourself to a small portion. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

No-Knead Whole Wheat Date & Walnut Mini Buns

I was never much of a bread person till a few years ago when I started on a weight loss programme. The dietitian I was consulting figured that I had been having too much of  food with high Glycemic Index, hence was not losing  as much weight as I should ideally have. One of the breakfast options was whole wheat bread slices with any protein as its partner.  I have been eating bread quite regularly since then, more for the convenience factor than anything else. So when I made idlis or dosas or poha etc for the rest of the family, I would make do, no, I still make do with bread as my breakfast. Bread often finds its way into my kids' snack box as sandwiches, goes in their tummies as a slice of toast with milk in the morning school rush. To cut the long story short, bread is quite indispensable to me!!

Being more of a cake baker all these years, the idea of home baked bread  has opened a whole new world to me. Attention folks!! Eating bread does not have to be monotonous or boring, you don't have to eat tasteless 'varieties' of  store bought bread paying fancy prices. You can bake your own healthy gourmet bread at home, yaaaayyyy!! And to my delight, I am discovering the possibilities are infinite and limited only to your imagination.

If you are not new to my blog, you would know that I have started baking breads only recently. My last couple of bread experiments with whole wheat were not exactly super successful. The right amount of kneading being one of the key factors resulting in a light bread, a no-knead bread gives the new baker better chances at success. So when I saw this recipe on Champa's blog, it instantly went into my new 'Breads' folder in my bursting 'Baking' folder.

Read on to know how I made 'No-Knead Whole Wheat Date & Walnut Mini Buns'

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pina Colada - In A Trifle!!!! - Well, Almost...!

Whats the easiest thing to put together when you have a sponge sitting in your fridge?? A make ahead, elegant dessert which can feed a crowd as well?? A trifle, a trifle, a trifle!!! No fuss, no sweating over slicing the cake neatly, perfect frosting not needed, just assemble however u fancy and chill. And then you sit back and chill.

I love Pina Colada, the pineapple drink with a hint of coconut. And the idea of making a similar cake or dessert had been on my mind since months. My new bottle of pineapple essence had to be tried and tested. I am quite fussy about buying essence as I have had a couple of bad experiences. The essence was so very over-powering, I had to throw the other wise good cake into the trash can:-(. Thankfully the pineapple essence was good.

I made a pineapple sponge with my favorite recipe for a fat-less sponge and put it in the freezer... waiting for an excuse to make a dessert out of it. Vani, initially an acquaintance through my blog and now a friend,  was to drop by at my place. How can I have a guest, a baking enthusiast at that, and not bake something?

Whipping cream whipped with coconut cream, layered with cubes of pineapple sponge, pineapple bits and a sprinkling of grated fresh coconut conjured up in my mind. And at last, my fantasy of making a Pina Colada Trifle came alive.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pistachio Chocolate Fudge

When Nags posted the recipe for Pistachio Chocolate Fudge, I could not wait to try it out... real quick, easy, chocolaty and filled with nuts. Just the way I love to eat chocolate, paired with its irresistible partner - nuts - pistachios in this case. My can of condensed milk was waiting to be opened since days and I had a whole packet of pistachios in my freezer. This is a Nigella, yes, Lawson(who else??) recipe.  Love watching her shows, drool over her don't- give- a -heck- about -the- calories desserts, her huge, airy and bright kitchen, her kitchen gadgets. And I bet, the way she manages to look so very beautiful in the kitchen makes the entire female population envious.

I remember watching her making this recipe in the marathon Christmas episodes aired the last couple of years during Christmas time. The fudge looked particularly good gift wrapped in small transparent pouches, replete with festive ribbons tied around them. But then, most of the things she puts together, seemingly carelessly, look so very gorgeous, wouldn't you agree??

Monday, September 13, 2010

Confetti Cupcakes

I must admit, I am not a regular when it comes to participating in blog events. Not that I don't want to, in fact I would love to participate - its just that I find it too much of an effort to come up with a recipe which meets the event specifications. I hope I don't sound pompous when I say this, but I cook or bake whatever is or has been cooking in my mind. Many a times its also the 'I see now, got to try it the next instant' kind of recipe, the kind which makes me run to my kitchen, don my apron and get started at it. And yeah, finish it by the time my daughter comes back from school:-)) 

 I read about Srivalli's 'Tried and Tasted' event featuring one of my favorite blogs!  Aparna's My Diverse Kitchen has been one of my most visited blogs since the time I woke up to food blogs. And she is one blogger I am in awe of - for her superb collection of recipes, her picture perfect photographs and her elegant style of writing. Oh, how I would love to try each of her tested recipes - this is exactly where indecisive me got stuck for a long time. Breads, my new love, was one of the things I spent a lot of time browsing and drooling over. But when yeast did not oblige a couple of times, I ran back to my old love - cakes and desserts. With just a day left to send in my entry, these colorful and delightful Confetti Cupcakes, at last materialized on my table.

If you have kids around, these are a must bake! Try stopping kids from squealing in delight when they see these cupcakes or try stopping them from asking for a second or third serving!! Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe Aparna!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chocolate Cream Cake

 'Its great to have a son, but to have a daughter is to be in heaven'.

I had read this somewhere, yeah at a maternity hospital.  This was firmly etched in my mind and I had actually believed this when I was carrying my daughter and was desperately hoping and praying that it should be a baby girl this time around. My son Anirudh was quite a handful for me when was a toddler and I had had a tough time with him. Back then, I was not working and I had all the time in the world to take him to the park every single evening. I would really enjoy meeting other mothers there, but would dread the moment when I would see a kid coming running towards me- for sure, with a complaint about my son!! "Aunty, Anirudh took away my ball', or' He poured sand on someone's head' were the common ones I recall.  In retrospect,  it was my inability as a first time mother, that had stressed me out:-))

But we had always wanted to have a daughter too, a sweet cutie pie, who would be easy to look after, not climb windows or pour sand on others' heads. A docile daughter, like my niece and my cousin's daughters. We were so happy when Aditi was born, sweet, chubby and angelic. By the time, she turned one, the halo around her head had started disappearing.... and I now have one feisty, extremely naughty, totally unrestrained daughter who is anything but!

Sorry, I got a little carried away!! I meant to write a post about the birthday cake I had made for her birthday in May. Well, I had not posted it so far as I thought it did not look good enough, though it had tasted good. Witnessing sibling rivalry in its nascent stages, am sure Aditi will not forgive me later if I don't post her birthday cake ,as I have posted Anirudh's birthday cakes, Helicopter Cake and Mocha Chocolate Gateaux. So here comes Aditi's Chocolate Cream Cake.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Minty Spiral Bread

My new love - nope, am happily married and very much in love with hubby after 11 years of marriage, thank you:-). Am talking about breads.  My humongous sweet tooth makes me bake cakes and desserts ever so often. The smell of vanilla or the sight of chocolate makes me hunt a cake or dessert recipe and get it on my table as soon as I can. But breads calling out to me - hey, this is new!!  My first attempt at baking bread was a disaster, my second one, the Masala Bread was successful. The third attempt, though the same recipe, had me and my  family polishing off the last crumb. I had never imagined myself baking breads or poring(read salivating) over bread recipes. Aah.. the sheer magic and pleasure of home baking!! Am I so glad I have started baking breads...

Baking breads(oh,forgive me, for the repetitive usage of the phrase so often in one post), I think, has one huge advantage. You get to satisfy your craving for baking without the sugar overload or without having to mark days in the calendar to check if its been a decent gap between the sugar and possibly high fat  intake in the guise of a cake or dessert.  Am enjoying my tryst with yeast tremendously and looking forward to a long love affair with breads...

After baking Masala Bread, I had promised my Dad that I would get him some of the same the next time I baked. I tried the basic bread recipe from Champa again, with a little twist,( literally:-) and out came from my oven a delightful Minty Spiral Bread.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Orange Yogurt Cake - Oh-so-delicious!!!

A spate of unsatisfactory bakes- that's what happened to me in the past couple of weeks. Like a row of flop movies- Aaw, poor joke here, excuse me:-). A souffle which rose - but not high enough, a genoise which did not seem tall enough to make a birthday cake out of, a chocolate cake which got the perfect ganache drape, but I messed up with the decoration- too big an 'Oops' to make it to the blog. My dessert did not set well enough to slice it, Agar-agar - u let me down:-(. Add the extremely temperamental electricity supply in Namma Bengaluru - would put off the most passionate of bakers I guess. Power supply seems to be so much more consistent in the past few days- Touch-wood!!

Yesterday after a long time, my oven smiled on me again. Whew!! I had seen this Orange Yogurt Cake on Pavani's blog here and had instantly bookmarked it (among scores of many many recipes, don't know when I will ever try them all!!). I love oranges in a BIG way, I don't know how many dozens of them I ate when I was carrying my first one - so much that hubby started worrying about it:-). Oranges in bakes is something I absolutely adore. I had oranges in my fridge and this seemed the perfect recipe to try - low fat, quick and super easy.

It was easily one of the tastiest tea cakes I have baked- super spongy, moist, refreshing and deliciously zesty. Thanks Pavani for sharing this recipe and reminding me of the forgotten Martha Stewart website. This cake is something which is going to be on my favorites list for a long time to come..