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 ooh.so..wonderful 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 bakery...do 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.