December 31, 2009

Super Moist Spiced Chocolate and Beetroot Mini Muffins

Good things come in small packages!

That is how I feel about the year that just went by. It was one of those years when nothing "big" happened. But, all the same, it will be remembered as the year with a lot of "small" events, the sumtotal of which is bigger than any "big" event. It has been a year well spent, surrounded by friends and family right from the word go. We started the year with a long drive and will be ending it with yet another. There were several memorable trips in 2009. Karnal, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Shekhawati, Kasauli, Allahabad and Varanasi. I also made one trip to Chennai in the middle of summer, while S went to Hyderebad at the same time. We traveled to Mumbai to attend the 5th birthday of my niece. We'll end the year with a drive to Mussoorie and ring in the new year in the company of our closest friends. In 2009, my parents visited us twice and my brother also made two trips. We've hosted the maximum number of parties/informal get togethers in 2009. We hosted the karaoke show on weekends, something we both love doing. I got my first payment from Foodbuzz and will soon receive my very first payment from Adsense. It will be remembered as the year in which I closed my housing loan entirely. It will also be the year in which I walked on hot burning coals for the very first time. The year in which I hit 500 posts on this blog.

Little drops of water

Little grains of sand

Make the mighty ocean

And the pleasant land

This is very true and has been my motto all along. And something tells me that t
hat must have been the inspiration behind the invention of the mini muffin pan. I end this year with these little beauties. Perfect for a little burst of happiness on an otherwise dull day.

1 1/2 cups Flour

1/3 cup Cocoa Powder

3 tsp Baking Powder

1 cup Sugar

a Pinch Salt

1/2 cup Oil

2 Eggs

1 cup Milk

1 cup Grated Beetroot

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Allspice

Icing Sugar to decorate

Sift all the dry ingredients for the muffins together into a food processor jar with the dough blade. Pour in all the liquid ingredients and run the processor for 2 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Prepare the mini muffin pans by lining them with paper muffin cases or spraying them with baking spray.

Stir the grated beetroot into the batter and pour into the prepared muffin cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Dust with icing sugar.

I hope that all of you had a good 2009. And I hope that you have chosen to dwell on the good more than on the not so good. Life is what we make it and memories are almost always what we choose to remember. Let us remember all the good that 2009 brought us, all the big and small pieces of happiness. And let us wish that 2010 turns out to be a better year. In every way.

Here's to lots of good health and happiness. May you be surrounded by friends, family and everyone and everything you hold dear. That is my New Year Wish for you and yours. Happy New Year 2010!

December 30, 2009

Macaroni with Tomato-Ricotta Cheese Sauce

When my parents spent a month with us, I realized that I barely cooked. I seemed to cook lunch for S and myself, but Amma took care of almost everything else. One weekend, I decided to drag my lazy self into the kitchen and cook a meal. I wasn't donning the chef's hat yet, so I wanted to be out of the kitchen as soon as possible. So, pasta it was. I got a lot of appreciation for a lunch that involved emptying different cartons/bottles from the refrigerator. Now, who can complain?

2 cups Macaroni, prepared as per the instructions on the pack.
1 cup Pizza Sauce (I used American Garden)
3/4 cup Ricotta Cheese
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Garlic Paste
1 tsp Parsley
1 tsp Basil
1 tsp Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oil. Add the garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add the pizza sauce, parsley, basil and oregao and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the salt and cook for a minute. Crumble the ricotta cheese into the sauce and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Season with pepper and pour the sauce over the macaroni.

Enjoy this with some Garlic Bread or Garlic Toast. And wait for the compliments to come pouring in.

December 29, 2009

Palak Methi Masoor Dal

Winter! I absolutely love this time of the year. Probably not as much for the festive season as for the array of winter vegetables that I see each time I visit the markets. I find fruit and vegetable shops most visually appealing at this time. Summer can be quite depressing as you only mostly see varying shades of green and not the red, yellow, orange, purple and green that you see in winter.

I buy fenugreek leaves and fresh spinach every week and use them in several ways. Some conventional, some very unconventional. One evening, I was pressed for time as I got home almost an hour later than usual and I made this dal to go with rotis. Simple as it was, we were licking our fingers at the end of the meal.

1/2 cup Masoor Dal, pressure cooked with 1.5 cups of water

1/2 cup Fenugreek leaves, chopped

1/2 cup Spinach leaves, chopped

1 tbsp Ghee/Oil

1 Red Chilli

1 tsp Green Chilli Paste

1 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

1 tsp Asafoetida

1 Onion, finely chopped

1 tsp Turmeric

1/2 tsp Chilli Powder

Salt to taste

Heat the ghee/oil in a vessel. Add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. When the cumin crackles, add the red chilli, onion, ginger-garlic paste, green chilli paste, turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Fry for a couple of minutes. Add the fenugreek and spinach leaves and fry for about 4-5 minutes. Add the cooked dal and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes and serve hot.

December 28, 2009

Carrot Kheer

Carrots. I can't seem to get enough of them ever. Especially the lovely red carrots that make an appearance at this time of the year. I tend to put them in everything from salads to pulaos to casseroles to cakes and desserts. I had eaten carrot kheer only once. A classmate of mine invited me to her place for lunch almost a decade ago, and she served this for dessert. Ever since, I've wanted to make it. But considering I'm not the biggest fan of kheer, this always took a backseat. Last weekend, I wanted to make something for dessert after lunch and I made this. We enjoyed this for a couple of days and I'm actually itching to make it again.

2 cups Carrot, grated

1/2 can Sweetened Condensed Milk (Milkmaid/Mithai Mate)

2-3 cups Milk

a pinch Saffron, dissolved in some milk

1/4 tsp Cardamom Powder

1 tbsp Kesari Milk Masala

Microwave the grated carrots (with a little water) on high for 2-3 minutes.

Bring the milk to a boil in a large vessel and add the condensed milk to it. Keep stirring until the mixture is even (else you'll have burnt condensed milk). Add the grated carrots and the saffron paste and simmer the mixture for about 10-15 minutes. It will begin to thicken nicely. Add the milk masala powder and take off the flame after a couple of minutes.

While you could enjoy it warm, I found that it tastes best the next day after it has sat for a night in the fridge. The colour seems to intensify and the flavours are just so... well, why should I tell you. You should try for yourself.

Off this goes to the JFI: Saffron event being hosted by my erstwhile fellow marathoner, DK.

December 27, 2009

Radish-Broccoli-Onion-Potato Sukke

Elaborate lunches. They get pushed to weekends. When the weekend comes, they get pushed back into the next week. This kept happening for quite a while before I realized that we were eating one pot meals all the time. One weekend, I decided to fix this issue and made a konkani meal. Sukke, dali-saar and rice. Not elaborate by any standards, but when all your other meals are pulaos or mixed rice dishes or roti and sabzi at best, this meal, simple as it might be, comes as a much needed whiff of fresh air.

Sukke is a dish that was a staple at Amma's place, more as a side for chapatis than with rice and dali-saar. I added whatever vegetables I wanted to use up and I was rather happy with the result. I tend to use broccoli florets a lot and the stalks always seemed to only get used in soup. Now, I am bursting with ideas to use broccoli stalks in many ways.

1 Radish, peeled

1/2 cup Broccoli stalks, peeled

2 Potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 Onions, quartered

1/2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds

1/2 tsp Coriander Seeds

1 tsp Oil

1/4 cup Coconut

3-4 Red Chillies

1 tbsp Tamarind Paste

1/4 tsp Turmeric

2 tsp Jaggery (optional)

Salt to taste

For the tempering:

1 tsp Oil

1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

7-8 Curry Leaves

Cut the radish and the broccoli stalks into 2" long pieces. Pressure cook the radish, broccoli stalks, onions and potatoes with a little salt for 1-2 whistles.

Heat the oil and fry the fenugreek seeds and the coriander seeds for a minute. Grind this along with the turmeric, tamarind, coconut and red chillies to a somewhat fine paste. Add this paste to the cooked vegetables and add salt to taste. Add the jaggery, if using. Cook for 4-5 minutes.

Heat the teaspoon of oil for the tempering in a frying ladle. Add the mustard and the asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves. Add this tempering to the vegetable mixture. Serve hot with rice and dali-saar.

December 26, 2009

Carrot and Raisin Cake

At the very last minute, my friend asked me to bring some cake for her birthday party. It was a weeknight and I had very little time. So, I relied on my time tested recipe and modified it. Carrots are in season and I love putting them to use in every way I can. I had some rum soaked raisins at hand, and they added a wonderful flavour to the cake. The cake came together very quickly and was gone just as fast at the party.

1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

Pinch of Salt
1/2 cup Milk

1/4 cup Oil
1/2 tsp Orange Essence
1 Egg, beaten

1/2 cup Carrot, grated

1/4 cup Raisins, soaked in rum for 24 hours

Preheat the oven to 400F (200 C).

Prepare an 8 inch cake tin by greasing it and dusting it with flour.

Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a mixing bowl, add the egg, milk, sugar, oil, and orange essence. Beat well together. Add the flour mixture to this and blend well. Fold in the grated carrot and raisins. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 30 minutes or until a knife/skewer, inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean.

Serve warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

December 25, 2009

Savoury Bread Pudding

A few weeks ago, I had almost lost all my enthusiasm to cook. I was excited about being in a new house with a slightly bigger kitchen. But because my kitchen wasn't yet organized, I didn't seem to care that much about cooking. Also, thanks to some new cab routing issues, I was also getting home about an hour later than I used to earlier. So dinner was usually something I tried to "get over with" and lunch was anything that came together in 15 minutes or less.

Then came the end of November. And dear Nupur came up with her 40 recipes in 40 days schedule. She is to blame for a lot of things on this blog. Her series A-Z of Indian Vegetables is probably the very first blog event I ever participated in. Then, she very innocently put up this post about Eating Out While Eating In and that resulted in an entire series on my blog. So, I end this year with a mini 7-day marathon that Nupur is organizing.

Through Nupur's blog, I landed at Alanna's blog and bookmarked this recipe. Soon after, Nupur made this dish. I made it one winter afternoon, with several modifications, when I didn't feel like making a big lunch. It was a hit!

1 Onion, chopped

1 cup Spinach, chopped

1 tsp Olive Oil

1 Egg

3/4 cup Milk

2 tbsp Cream

1 tsp Mixed Herbs

1 tsp Chilli Flakes

2 tbsp Mustard (Dijon)

5 slices Bread, diced

1 cup Mixed Vegetables (Carrot, Beans, Peas, Corn), diced and cooked

1/4 cup Cheese, grated

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Butter to grease the baking dish

Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the onion for a minute. Add the spinach and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the salt, stir well and keep aside. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

In a bowl, beat the egg well. Add the milk and cream along with the mustard. Add the chilli flakes and mixed herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Blend in the spinach onion mixture.

In the greased baking dish, place the bread and the mixed vegetables. Pour the egg-spinach mixture. Cover with grated cheese, season with salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes.

I thought bread puddings only tasted great sweet, but this recipe is a keeper. Thanks Nupur and Alanna.

Tasty Trials with a dollop of Sunshine

Last month, I set out to put the Sunshine Mom on a trial of a different kind. I asked everyone out there to go through her blog and read her recipes. After that all that was needed to be done was to cook something from there and talk about it on their blogs. Simple, you'd think. It is only when you get to Harini's blog and start looking at the sheer variety of recipes that you realize that the task at hand isn't half as simple as it sounds. I know this because I spent almost the entire month going through the blog, bookmarking several recipes to end up making the simplest one there was just so I didn't have to be late for my own event.

The responses have been wonderful despite the fact that I was an intermittent blogger the whole of last month. Here's a snapshot:

Top Row(L to R):

Aloo Bhindi from Priya of Easy N Tasty Recipes

Avarakkai Poduthuval from Aliena of Recipes for the Everyday Woman

Second Row (L to R):

Avial from Lata Raja of Flavours and Tastes

Besan Cheela from Jayasree of Kailas Kitchen

Cauliflower and Green Peas from Ksenia of Tales of a Spoon

Dhingri Badaami from Andy of Food & More

Third Row (L to R):

Gobi Paratha from Malini of Khana Khazana

Green Gram Salad from Kanchan of Kitchen Gossip

Paneer Makhani from Divya of Dil Se

Paneer Makhani from Sowjanya of Ruchika Cooks

Botton Row (L to R):

Tofu Chocolate Pudding from Yasmeen of the Health Nut

Zapplas from Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf

Chickpea Salad from Raaga of The Singing Chef

Divya of Dil Se will host the T&T event for March 2010. Thanks Zlamushka for giving me the honour of hosting the T&T November 2009.

Season's Greetings Everyone!

December 4, 2009

Soya Makhani

When we moved to this new apartment, I somehow didn't manage to cook anything decent for the first few days. But we still took our lunch packed in boxes. The lunches usually had soya, paneer, peas, lentils... you get the drift, don't you? Since Amma and Appa were here then, Amma would make dinner each night and that was the only meal which gave us our vegetable fix.

Soya makhani is one such dish that was put together in less than 10 minutes. Thanks to soya chunks and bhuna masala. This is kind of like the vegetarian version of butter chicken, but made completely the cheater's way.

1 cup Soya Nuggets, prepared according to instructions on the pack

1 packet Maggi Bhuna Masala for Gravy Dishes

1/2 cup Milk

1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder

1 tsp Chilli Powder

1 tsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Kasuri Methi)

Salt to taste

Heat the bhuna masala in a kadhai and add the chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Fry for a minute.

(If you do not have access to Maggi Bhuna Masala, you could heat a tablespoon of oil, fry the paste of 1 onion along with a teaspoon of ginger garlic paste. After the onion paste is fried for 3-4 minutes, add 2-3 tbsp of tomato puree and cook for 2-3 minutes more.)

Add the milk and bring the mixture to a boil over a low flame. Add the soya nuggets and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the dried fenugreek leaves and take off the flame. Serve hot with rotis.

November 30, 2009

Macaroni Casserole

These days I seem to need all the inspiration I can find to cook. I've tried different meal plans, tried to cook as much as possible in advance, etc. But there are days when even the best laid plans turn their noses, lift up their thumbs and say Na-na-na-na-na. Last Thursday was one such day. I remembered my namesake's moussaka and Nupur's green bean casserole and ended up making a casserole with just about everything I could lay my hands on.

2 Potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced

1 cup Macaroni, prepared according to instructions on the pack

1 cup Pasta Sauce

1 Onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup Spinach puree

1/4 cup Sweet Corn

1 tsp Olive Oil

1 tsp Mixed Herbs

1 tsp Chilli Flakes

1 cup White Sauce

1 slice Cheese

1/4 cup Bread Crumbs

Salt and Pepper to taste

Butter to grease the tin

Grease the tin with the butter. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).

Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the onions. Add the mixed herbs and the chilli flakes. Add the corn along with a little water. Cook until the corn is soft and the water has evaporated. Add the spinach puree and a little salt. Keep aside.

Blend the white sauce with the cheese and keep aside.

Arrange the potato slices to cover the base of the tin. Spread the pasta sauce over the potatoes. Spread the macaroni over this. Cover with the spinach and corn mixture. Pour the white sauce over this spinach layer. Season with salt and pepper and cover with bread crumbs.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve hot.

There were two things that I really liked about this casserole: The different flavours that came together beautifully and the wonderful colour combination that made it a visual treat.

November 29, 2009

Beetroot Patties

I have a colleague and cabmate, S, who has a colleague and best friend, D. D's mother is, like my colleague P's mother, an excellent cook. Since I leave for work very early, and since I cook our breakfast and lunch in the morning before leaving for work, I end up eating breakfast at work because there just isn't any time. Very often, S and D have their breakfast at the same time in the office cafeteria. Every once in a while, I taste D's breakfast and I must say that her mother makes the most unusual dishes.

Last week, D brought these beetroot patties for breakfast. I had one bite and found that I couldn't stop myself from taking the second... and the third. S gave me the recipe on the way back home that evening and I was all set to try it out this weekend. All I can say is that I will make these again and again, all through this winter.

1/2 cup Beetroot, grated

1/2 cup Carrot, grated

2 tbsp Roasted Peanuts

1 tbsp Oil

1 tsp Ginger Paste

1 tsp Garlic Paste

1 tsp Green Chilli Paste

1/2 tsp Chilli Powder

1/2 tsp Amchur (Dry Mango Powder)

1 tsp Cumin-Coriander Powder

1/4 tsp Garam Masala

2-3 slices of Bread

Salt to taste

Cornflour to coat the patties

Oil for frying

Heat the tablespoon of oil and fry the ginger, garlic and green chilli pastes for a minute. Add the beetroot and carrot and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the peanuts along with the salt, chilli powder, amchur, cumin-coriander powder and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the garam masala. Crumble the bread slices into the beetroot mixture and mix well. Take off the flame and allow to cool.

Form small balls of this mixture and flatten them slightly. Coat them in the cornflour and shallow fry on a pan until crisp on both sides. Serve with a salad on the side (or some tomato ketchup).

Please do remember that there are only two days left for the Tried and Tasted event. Do hop over to Sunshinemom's blog and pick a recipe that you've always wanted to try and send it over to me.

November 28, 2009

Tried & Tasted: Chickpea Salad

I have been having so many problems with blogger of late that I don't even know where to start. This seems to be the cooking season and I see new recipes, new resolutions and absolutely finger licking yummy food everywhere I look. I had lost my inspiration to cook in between and found comfort in the dal-roti-rice-sabzi routine. My new cab route leaves me with 3-4 hours of time to spare, depending on how much I sleep. In these 3 hours, I have to get ready for work, cook, eat, catch up with S, etc. So, even on those days that I do manage to cook something different, I almost never get around to taking a picture of it, let alone blog about it.

In the midst of this all, I volunteered to host an event. When I agreed to, I had expected November to be a "light" month. It has turned out to be my busiest yet. And it doesn't help that much that winter is here early. It only means that I need to spend extra time applying moisturizer (or end up scratching myself all the time).

Plus, blogger doesn't allow me to leave a comment. That means I am unable to thank someone for inspiration to cook or even tell them how much I liked a certain recipe or even say hello. All in all, nothing seems to be going my way.

And amidst all this, I am still my lazy self. So when I find myself hosting an event which celebrates another blogger and her blog, I spend hours going through her entire blog, for the entire month, only to settle on the simplest recipe I can find because:
  • I'm making lunch for just myself
  • I have everything on hand
  • I like what I see
  • I am running out of time for my own event

So, this afternoon I chose to make Sunshine Mom's Tongue Tickling Chickpea Salad with Italian Dressing. The only changes I made to the recipe was to omit the almonds and replace dried fenugreek with paprika. I'm typing this post with a bowl of this salad by my side. Try it and I'm sure you'll find yourself serving this salad quite often. This is my entry to the Tried and Tasted event that I am hosting at The Singing Chef. What are you cooking?

P.S: There seems to be yet another problem here. My pictures don't seem to be displaying here.

November 22, 2009

Senaikkizhangu Karumadhu (Yam Saute)

I've talked often about how I eat everything, all fruits and vegetables and all kinds of foods without exception. There are some things I know I like and there are some things I like simply because my dear brother, H, couldn't stand them. The opposite of this also held true for quite a while. I didn't "like" lady's finger simply because he loved it. Yam was (and still is) the one vegetable he absolutely hated. I liked it as a child, but I continue to relish it as an adult as well. I made this saute, a staple at my parents' home, recently. And then I made it again.

Here's the recipe, handed down from mother to daughter and then from daughter to the world!

2 cups Yam, peeled and diced

3-4 Red Chillies

1/4 tsp Turmeric (optional)

1 tbsp Tamarind Paste

1 tsp Oil

Salt to taste

For the tempering:

1 tbsp Oil

1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

7-8 Curry Leaves

Pressure cook the yam with the tamarind paste, turmeric (if using), salt, chillies and a teaspoon of oil with 3 cups of water. Drain the water.

In a kadhai, heat the tablespoon of oil. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves and the drained yam.

Saute for a minute, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove the lid and allow the pieces to crispen. Serve hot with some rice and sambar, your meal is complete!

Please also remember that the Tried and Tasted (Sunshine Mom's Blog) is on at The Singing Chef. Do send in your entries.

November 16, 2009

Maida Polo (Dosa)

It is a known fact that I love upma for breakfast. What I really love about upma is the ease with which the dish is ready. My real favourite has to be the Indian pancake variety: Dosa, Uttapam, Pole, Doddak, etc. When we visited Bombay last month, I woke up early by force of habit (even though I was on vacation). That gave me some time in the kitchen with my aunt. This aunt has been the inspiration for many recipes that I use today and the all time favourite recipe of hers for me would have to be Garlic Baby Potatoes. This time I watched her make these dosas. They're incredibly simple to make. They can be really soft or very thin and crisp (whichever way you like them). They need no fermentation. Could you ask for more?

1/4 cup Udad, soaked overnight

1/2 cup Flour

Salt to taste

Oil for frying

Wash the udad. Wash well and grind using a little water. Fold in the flour. Add salt and water to dilute it as required. (Don't add too much water as the dosas will not turn out well.)

To make the dosas, heat a tawa and smear a little oil on it. Simmer the flame and pour a ladleful of the batter in the centre of the tawa. Quickly spread the batter while forming concentric circles. Turn the flame back to high. Add a little oil on the sides and centre. Usually not more than 1 small spoonful per dosa. When crisp, carefully turn the dosa over and allow the other side to cook a little. Repeat for the other dosas.

Serve with chutney or molaga podi or pitti chitni. (If you're willing to wait that long, that is!)

November 15, 2009

Pumpkin and Tomato Soup

When I started blogging, I don't think I had even tasted Pumpkin Soup. Pumpkin was best used in sambar or vathal kuzhambu. I didn't think very much of this vegetable. Amma used to make a typical upkari with finely chopped pumpkin, but I didn't miss it if she didn't make it for a decade. I loved making (and eating) Pumpkin Pie. In the past couple of years, I have used this vegetable extensively in soups, side dishes and even used it in a cake. And I've been expermenting quite a bit.

The latest experiment was with a soup. I started out making the traditional tomato soup, but decided to use of the bag of cubed pumpkin that was stashed away in the freezer. I quite enjoyed the soup. It was rather filling and all I needed to go with it was a couple of cream crackers.

1 cup Pumpkin, cubed

4 Tomatoes, diced
1 Onion, diced
2 pods Garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pressure cook the vegetables and the garlic with 2cups of water. When cool, blend in a liquidizer and strain. Bring the liquid to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

If you're like me, there, dinner's on the table!

November 14, 2009

Baked Stuffed Chillies

I have always avoided buying chillies. But I usually end up with a bag of the "bajji" variety chillies in the hope of making mirchi bajji. I have made that once (but sadly, the post languishes in my drafts) and the other times that I bought the chillies, I saved the bag from going into the trash by making this once and this the other time.

Today was a little different. I was quite determined to use up the chillies in a different manner before they turned into something unrecognizable. I had some aloo paratha stuffing left over and I modified it to stuff these chillies.

6 large Chillies, slit and deseeded

2 Potatoes, cooked and mashed

1 Onion, chopped finely

2 tbsp Coriander Leaves, chopped

1/2 tsp Garam Masala

1 tsp Chilli Paste

Salt to taste

To be ground:

1/4 cup Roasted Peanuts

1/2 tsp Amchur

1/2 tsp Coriander Powder

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

1 tsp Chilli Powder

1 tbsp Oil

Mix the potato, onion, coriander, garam masala, salt and chilli paste. Add the ground mixture and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 250 C. Use a little oil to grease a baking tray. Stuff the potato-peanut mixture into the chillies and arrange them on the tray. Brush the chillies with the remaining oil. Bake for 15 minutes, turning once in between.

This makes a wonderful side dish with some rice and dal, but as we discovered this afternoon, it is a finger licking good accompaniment to beer.

November 7, 2009

Announcing Tried & Tasted November 2009

After a really long hiatus, I am finally back. Thanks again to all of you who've stopped by to ask how I've been doing. I do need to get back into the groove of blogging and blog hopping. So, what better way to do this than to host an event. Zlamushka's Tried and Tasted train now halts for the month of November at my station, The Singing Chef. And this month, we celebrate the very versatile blog of Harini, better known to everyone as Sunshinemom.

  1. Cook any recipe(s) from Sunshinemom's Tongue Ticklers( and post about it. Stay as true to the original recipe(s) as possible. Therefore, there is no need for re-posting it, simply link to the original post :-)
  2. Link your post to the originator of the event Zlamushka at (feel free to use the logo - thanks to Ksenia ( for designing this logo) and to the post with the original recipe. Please always link to both sites, so both blogs are given credit and you are avoiding copyright fuss.
  3. Send me an e-mail ( with your name, your post URL as well as the original URL and a picture (300px by height, please).
  4. Deadline is the November 30th 2009 and the round up will be posted within a week.
  5. Non-bloggers are more than welcome to participate Simply e-mail me ( with your experience of what you cooked and please include a picture.

The round up will be posted during the first week in December, where I will also announce the Blogger of the Month for March 2010.

Get ready to cook up a storm in your kitchens. And don't forget to tell me all about it.

October 22, 2009

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

My new found love seems to be experimenting with flavours. I seem to enjoy giving a little twist to seemingly old tales. I made these cinnamon sugar muffins after fantasizing about cinnamon doughnuts one morning. These aren't quite like the doughnuts, but could come a very close second.

2 cups Flour

3 tsp Baking Powder

1 1/4 cups Sugar

1 tsp Salt

1/2 cup Oil

2 eggs

1 cup Milk

1 tsp Vanilla

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

1 tsp Cinnamon Powder

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare the muffin pans by lining them with paper muffin cases. Mix the cinnamon powder and the brown sugar together and keep aside.

Sift all the dry ingredients for the cake together into a food processor jar with the dough blade. Blend for a minute.

Pour in all the liquid ingredients and run the processor until the dry ingredients are moistened. Pour a spoonful the batter into the prepared muffin cases. Sprinkle a little cinnamon-sugar mixture. Top with another spoonful of the batter and sprinkle some more of the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy warm.

Soon after a blogging milestone and a wedding anniversary, these little beauties come your way as part of the party fare on my birthday. So, just come over with your birthday hats and get ready to sing: Happy Birthday!

October 20, 2009

Eggless Triple Chocolate Muffins

I've been rather silent here. A lot of you asked me if everything is OK. Thanks and I was glad to be missed. Since my 500th post on my anniversary, lots of things have happened. My parents came to Gurgaon, we shifted residence, I accompanied Amma on a yatra to Kashi and Prayag, returned in time for Deepavali, only to fall ill the day before my favourite festival.

On the whole, while we did celebrate the festival the traditional way with an oil bath and new clothes, all was silent on the kitchen front. We're yet to fully settle down in the new house and I (mostly Amma though) just about manage to make some basic meals.

Here are some eggless triple chocolate muffins to celebrate the festival:

1 1/2 cups Flour
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup Sugar
a Pinch Salt
1/2 cup Oil
2 tsp Egg Replacer (dissolved in 2 tbsp of water OR 2 Eggs)
1 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
½ cup White Chocolate Chips
½ cup Milk Chocolate Chips

Sift all the dry ingredients for the muffins together into a food processor jar with the dough blade. Pour in all the liquid ingredients and run the processor for 2 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare the muffin pans by lining them with paper muffin cases.

Stir the chocolate chips into the batter and pour into the prepared muffin cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Happy Deepavali Everyone (even though belated)!

September 18, 2009

If you miss the train I'm on...

... you will know that I am gone. You can hear the whistle blow a 100 miles.

I'm sure you're all wondering what these lines have to do with my food blog. Agreed that this is the blog of The Singing Chef and that music has to be a part of this journey. Read on till the end if you want to unravel this little mystery. This is a long post.

I have always talked about why blogs and cookbooks will co-exist. Each fixes a different problem, a different need. There is a certain joy in going through a cookbook, getting inspired by it, cooking something from it and enjoying it. There is a different joy in blog hopping, finding a recipe, cooking it, letting the blogger know (or even seeking inputs where necessary) and then telling the whole world what a nice recipe that blogger put up. Overall, it fosters a sense of camaraderie. This post is my way of saying thanks to my fellow bloggers for putting up some delicious recipes that have added much needed variety to our dinner table. Some of the recipes that I tried (and we loved) are:

Pumpkin Erissheri from the Jugalbandits.

Tomato Spinach Pulao from Nags' Edible Garden.

Indian Style Baked Tofu from Madhuram's Eggless Cooking.

Pasta the forgotten way from Arundati's Escapades.

Mushroom Stroganoff from Aarti's Life Goes On.

Baby Carrots and Thyme from Nandita's Saffron Trail.

Chukku Kaapi from Mishmash

I have told you all that I didn't intend for this blog to become what it has. All this is a bonus. I only hoped to create a repository of recipes that I can access easily. Today, there are so many people who write back and let me know they tried something from my blog. I feel thrilled. When my "forced-to-be-bachelors-for-a-week" friends write in and tell me they cooked a simple meal from my blog which spared them another night of Maggi, I feel honoured. Then there are some folks out there who would make it seem like I am a celebrity (one even said as much!) and have nominated this blog in the Best Baking Blog category in the FoodBuzz 2009 Food Blog Awards!

This post is as much one to thank each and everyone of you who has visited this blog, encouraged me to continue blogging (especially at those times when I felt like giving up). I want to acknowledge the friends who have come into my life through this very medium. I want you all to know that I am deeply grateful for your presence in my life today. To all of you, I say:

I'm on the top of the world lookin down on creation

And the only explanation I can find

Is the love that I've found ever since youve been around

Your love's put me at the top of the world

But why am I singing the song by Carpenters, when I started with that beautiful song by Peter, Paul and Mary?

If you miss the train I'm on, you will know that I am gone

You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles,

A hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles,

You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.

Lord I'm one, lord I'm two, lord I'm three, lord I'm four,

Lord I'm 500 miles from my home.

500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles

Lord I'm five hundred miles from my home.

Because Lord I'm one, lord I'm two, lord I'm three, lord I'm four, Lord I'm 500 posts from my home. And to reach this wonderful milestone on the day that S and I celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary makes both the celebrations that much sweeter! Happy Anniversary Sachin. You've made the last three years so memorable and I look forward to all the memories we will create together.

September 15, 2009

Mushroom Capsicum Pizza

This is the pizza I've always spoken so highly of. The pizza we grew up on. Long before Pizza Hut and Pizza Corner or Domino's came into India, this pizza replaced dinner on Monday nights. After talking about it for ages, I bring to you Amma's famous mushroom and capsicum pizza.

For the dough:

1 1/2 cups Flour

1 tbsp Yeast

1/8 cup Oil

1/2 tbsp Sugar

3/4 tsp Salt

1/4 cup Water, boiling

1/4 cup Milk

For the sauce:
1 Onion, chopped finely
2-3 medium Tomatoes, chopped finely
1 Capsicum, chopped finely
4 Button Mushrooms, chopped finely
2 tbsp Tomato Puree
1 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tbsp Oil
Salt to Taste

100g Mozzarella Cheese, grated
1 tsp Oil

For the dough:

Take a huge mixing bowl and place the oil, salt and sugar in it. Add boiling water and mix until the sugar dissolves. Add the milk now to bring the mixture to room temperature. Add the yeast and mix well. Add the flour and knead into a dough. Place the dough in a greased vessel and cover it with a damp muslin cloth. Allow to rise until double in size (roughly 45-50 minutes).

For the sauce:

In a pan, heat the oil and add the onions. Fry for a minute or two. Add the capsicum and mushrooms and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the oregano, salt, sugar and pepper and fry for another minute. Add the tomatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the puree and ketchup and cook the mixture for a couple of minutes.

To Proceed:

Grease a pizza plate.

Spread the dough over the plate. (You could roll the dough using a rolling pin. I prefer doing this by hand.) Spread the oil over the dough. Spread enough sauce over the base. Sprinkle the cheese over the pizza.

Bake in a hot oven (400 F) for 20 minutes. When done, cut into wedges. Enjoy your meal.

September 13, 2009

Aloo Methi

I was first introduced to Aloo Methi when I was about 10 or so. My eldest cousin married into a North Indian family and when we visited her, she served us this with hot phulkas. Fortunately, she warned me that it might be a little bitter. I guess I was prepared for the worst. As it turned out, I ended up loving this dish. I make it at least 1-2 times a month when fresh fenugreek leaves are in season.

3 Potatoes, boiled, peeled and diced

1 cup Fenugreek leaves, chopped

1 tsp Oil

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

1 tsp Chilli Powder
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the cumin seeds and the asafetida. When the cumin crackles, add the fenugreek leaves and sauté for a minute or so. Add the salt and chilli powder and cook for another minute. Add the diced potatoes and mix well. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes.

This is one of those “perfect sides” with rice and dal or rotis.

September 11, 2009

Mushroom Broccoli Corn Bake

One of the things I’d forgotten about thanks to my “daily cooking rut” was casseroles. They’re versatile, they’re fun, they’re fuss-free, well almost. And the nicest part is that you can even just pop some slices of bread in the toaster, serve it along with the casserole. “Voila! It becomes a meal!” I’m slowly rediscovering the joys that only casseroles can bring (especially after a back breaking 2 hour drive back home).

1 cup Mushrooms, sliced and sauteed in 1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Broccoli florets, steamed
1/4 cup Sweet Corn, steamed
1 tbsp Butter/Olive Oil

1 tbsp Flour

1 cup Milk

1/2 tsp Parsley

1/2 tsp Basil

1 tsp Chilli flakes

1/2 tsp Garlic Paste

Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 slice Low Fat Cheese (optional)
1 tsp Butter to grease the baking dish
3 tbsp Bread Crumbs

Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the garlic paste, parsley, basil and chilli flakes and fry for another minute. Add the flour and fry without browning the flour. Add the milk and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring continuously. If adding cheese, add it at this point and stir the sauce well. As the sauce thickens, add the salt and pepper. Stir in the sauteed mushrooms, broccoli, and corn.

Grease a baking dish with the teaspoon of butter. Pour in the white sauce - vegetable mixture. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the mixture and bake in a hot oven (400F) for 10 minutes. Serve hot with some Garlic Bread or Garlic Toast.

September 9, 2009

Good Ol' Vanilla Muffins

After trying all kinds of different muffins, I decided to try my hand at making the plain vanilla edition (Pun fully intended!). I was quite happy with the results. This recipe forms the perfect base for different flavours and I can't wait to try them out. These vanilla muffins (known as "plain" muffins at the coffee shop downstairs - I think it they could have gotten a little more innovative there) were a great hit.

2 cups Flour
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/4 cups Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Oil
2 eggs
1 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
Butter and flour for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare the muffin pans by lining them with paper muffin cases.

Sift all the dry ingredients for the cake together into a food processor jar with the dough blade. Blend for a minute. Pour in all the liquid ingredients and run the processor until the dry ingredients are moistened. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy warm with a dab of butter!

September 7, 2009

Chana Salad

When we’re hosting a party, I am either extremely laidback (which means some Haldiram’s kind of items will flow from their packets, some McCain’s stuff will migrate from the freezer to the oven, and we’ll make do with what we have) or go extremely overboard (make cutlets, cut vegetable sticks and make a curd dip to go along with it, bake some savoury biscuits, crackers, muffins, mini pizzas etc, etc). It is very rarely that you would find me walking the middle path. On one of those very rare occasions, I made this salad and served it along with some readymade snacks. It was gone in almost no time.

1 cup Chickpeas, soaked and cooked
1 Tomato, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
1 Carrot, chopped
1/2 cup Coriander Leaves

2 pods Garlic

1" piece Ginger

2 Green Chillies
Juice of 1 Lime

Salt to taste

Prepare the chutney by grinding the coriander leaves with the garlic, ginger, green chillies and salt together. Add the lime juice and mix well.

Place the chickpeas, tomato, onion and carrot in a salad bowl. Add the chutney like a dressing and toss well.

Tasty, healthy and great with drinks. There’s precious little you could ask for over and above all this. No, really!

September 5, 2009

Tomato, Basil and Macaroni Soup

I can't remember where I tasted this soup first. But I do remember having loved it at first slurp! I made this on a day that I had a lot of tomatoes and a whole bunch of fresh basil. I know that tomato and basil are truly made for each other. I threw in some boiled macaroni and made a meal out of this soup.

6 Tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup Basil leaves, roughly chopped

1/2 cup Macaroni, prepared according to instructions on pack

1/2 tsp Chilli Flakes

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a pressure cooker, cook the tomatoes, chilli flakes and basil along with 2 cups of water. Blend in a liquidizer and strain. Bring this mixture to a boil. Add the cooked macaroni and season with salt and pepper.

Perfect for those times when you want a hot, comforting, yet quick meal. Off this goes to the Think Spice Think Red Chillies event over at Kitchen Chronicles.

September 3, 2009

Baingan Bharta

I didn't always like the taste of smoked brinjals. I love brinjals otherwise, but this one method of cooking was never a favourite. If Amma wanted to make thogayal/thuvayal, she would steam the brinjals in the cooker. Now, I have come to appreciate the flavour a lot more. When Amma was here sometime back, she made this Baingan Bharta. Even my Punjabi colleagues said it was to die for.

1 large Brinjal, roasted on an open flame

1 Onion, chopped finely
1 Tomato, chopped finely
1 tsp Ginger Paste
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 tsp Coriander Powder
1/4 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Oil
Salt to taste

Place the roasted brinjal in a bowl of water.
Remove the charred skin and keep the brinjal aside. Mash the cooked brinjal a little.

Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the onions and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the ginger paste along with the turmeric, coriander and chilli powders. Add the salt and the tomato and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the mashed brinjal and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the garam masala and garnish with some chopped coriander if you like.
Serve hot with chapatis/phulkas.

September 1, 2009

Eggless Chocolate Walnut Muffins

There's something nice about muffins. Something that makes them better than cake. I have not figured out what that is. It could just be that good things come in small packages. Whatever it is, I can't resist these little beauties. As I was off to Mumbai for a couple of family functions, I made these muffins to take with me for the extended family.

1 1/2 cups Flour
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup Sugar
a Pinch Salt
1/2 cup Oil
2 tsp Egg Replacer (dissolved in 2 tbsp of water OR 2 Eggs)
1 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
25 Walnut halves

Sift all the dry ingredients for the muffins together into a food processor jar with the dough blade. Pour in all the liquid ingredients and run the processor for 2 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare the muffin pans by lining them with paper muffin cases.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cases. Decorate with the walnut halves. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

But these sweet little beauties are also being sent miles away to celebrate the wedding anniversary of my parents. Many happy returns of the day Amma and Appa!

August 30, 2009

Baked Somashe

Festivals are always about food, aren't they? When I know a certain festival is coming up, I plan what I'm going to make. This year, Gowri Tritiya and Ganesh Chaturthi came on the same day. (I doubt I will ever understand the Indian calendar system!) So, while we performed both the pujas in the morning, I decided to make Tritiya food for lunch and Chaturthi food for dinner. (Including dali saar and Patrodo.)

I decided to take it easy and brought the chaklis from a store. I then decided to take it even easier and use readymade wonton wrappers for the somashe. And given how sultry it was, I chose to bake them. They taste almost nothing like the hand rolled, deep fried versions. In fact, these are more like cookies with their caramelized sugary flavour and that crunch. I would definitely make these again.

20-22 Wonton wrappers

For the filling:

1 1/8 cup Sugar

1 cup Water

3/4 cup Coconut, scraped

1/2 cup Cream of Wheat (Rava/Sooji)

1/4 cup Cashews

1 tsp Cardamom powder

2 tbsp Sesame Seeds

Roast the coconut, cream of wheat and sesame seeds individually and keep aside.

Make a sugar syrup of 1 thread consistency with the sugar and water. Add the coconut, sesame and cream of wheat along with the cashews and cardamom powder. Mix well and allow to cool.

Place a wonton wrapper inside a somashi press. Place some filling on one half and dab a little water along the edges. Cover with the other half and close the press and hold it down. Remove the somashi from the press, remove the excess wrapper and seal the edges again with your fingers (just to be doubly sure!). Place on a damp towel and cover. Repeat with the other wrappers.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

Place these on a greased baking tray and bake for 7 minutes. Turn each somashi over and bake for another 7 minutes. Your almost "no-sweat" somashe are ready! This post is late for Ganesh Chaturthi, but by the time you get to read this, I would be attending the Visarjan puja at my uncle's place in Matunga. I hope you all had a good Teyi/Chavati.