May 30, 2012

Orange Buttermilk Pound Cake

It looks like it is raining cakes at The Singing Chef. Quite like the monsoons! Last year, at about this time, it felt like I was serving cakes for breakfast lunch and dinner. Right now, once again, I have plenty of cake recipes sitting in my drafts. They shall be all be out very soon. I even have a couple of eggless cakes coming your way.

I made this cake at S's request. He had a team meeting at work and wanted to take something for everyone. I had wanted to make the Orange Ricotta Pound Cake, but I was all out of Ricotta Cheese. I did have buttermilk and so I decided to tweak Deeba's recipe. I am left with a winner recipe. The cake was soft and moist, with a crust on top. The flavour of the oranges came through with every bite.
1 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
100ml Buttermilk
1 tsp pure Vanilla extract
Juice of 1/2 an Orange
Zest of 1 Orange

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

Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F. Prepare a 10" ring tin.
Cream the butter with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the buttermilk and vanilla extract and beat again. Add the orange juice  and the zest. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter, adding a little at a time.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool a little and cut into slices when warm using a bread knife.
I made this on a busy weekday morning and forgot to take pictures. It was only after I had cut and packed the cake that I remembered. So, the picture is one that I took using my phone.

May 29, 2012

Vegetable Biryani

I used to go snack heavy at parties and stick to one main dish. Five years ago, if I made more than two items at dinner for a party, I didn't have to cook for the next few days. By the time people reached the dinner table, they would have snacked enough. Nowadays, I try to stick to a snack or two and go for a larger spread for the main meal. This biryani works well in both settings.

For the longest time, I couldn't tell the difference between a pulao and a biryani. Now, I have a vague idea. I have had many bloggers tell me the difference and Amma also makes a mean vegetable biryani, which is cooked very differently from her pulaos. This is a recipe that comes very close in taste to some good biryanis that I have had, but is cooked like a pulao. I make this very often, and in the rice cooker. So I use parboiled vegetables. If you are cooking it in a pressure cooker, feel free to use raw vegetables and decrease the water by 1/2 cup.

1 1/2 cups Basmati Rice
3 cups Mixed Vegtetables (Beans, Carrots, Cauliflower, Peas and Potatoes)
1/2 cup Onions, sliced
1/2 cup Curd
2 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
3 pods Cardamom
4 Cloves
2 sticks Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
2 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tbsp Shahi Biryani Masala (I use Everest)
Salt to taste

Grind to a paste:
2 Onions, roughly chopped
2 Tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 cloves Garlic
1" piece Ginger
2 Green Chillies, roughly chopped

Place the vegetables in a microwave safe bowl with enough water. Cook for 8 - 10 minutes. Drain.

Wash the rice and drain.

Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Add the onions and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato-onion paste and fry for a few minutes. Add the salt, turmeric, chilli powder and biryani masala. Fry until the oil separates from the mixture. Add the curd and mix well. Add the vegetables and mix until the vegetables are coated with the mixture.

Add the rice and cook the mixture for a minute. Transfer to the rice cooker and add 3 cups of water. Cook until done.

I usually serve this with some mixed raita and chips/salad. This dish has been as much a hit at weekend lunches as it has been at parties.

May 24, 2012

Oats Doddak

I once blogged about how I could never understand people who ate the same stuff for breakfast every day. Rain or shine. That post was about a mango and melon smoothie. That was about 9-10 months ago. Since then oat and fruit smoothies have become a staple for breakfast. Even baby A loves the smoothies for breakfast. But sometimes he craves something savoury. I made this for him one morning and then ate the stuff for lunch. (If you are making this for children, omit the chillies or use a small portion of deseeded chillies.)
The use of oats in this doddak is a healthy twist in the tale. Oats keeps hunger pangs away longer thanks to its lower GI and is also full of fibre.

1 cup Oats, roasted and powdered
1 tbsp Semolina
1/4 cup Coconut, scraped
1/4 cup Coriander, chopped
2 Green chillies, chopped
1" piece Ginger, chopped
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

For the tempering:

1 tsp Oil
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves

Prepare the tempering in a small kadhai and transfer the contents to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except the oil and mix well using a little water. (Do not add too much water. The batter should not be watery.)

Pour the dough onto a hot griddle and spread it a little. Pour a few drops of oil on all sides. Make a slit in the centre using the spatula and pour a few drops into this slit.

Turn over and allow the other side to crispen as well. Serve with pitti chitni and toop or with plain butter.

May 8, 2012

Pok Choy Thuvayal

I have access to a wide variety of greens here. I use them in many ways: stir fries, salads, etc. Sometimes, I simply use a local green in my regular Indian cooking instead of an Indian green. We have had Kai-lan (Chinese Broccoli) Dal, Kangkong (Water Spinach) Sambar etc. I like the idea of throwing in a green leafy vegetable into just any dish. And all of you know about my obsession with Thuvayals. When I found a couple of bunches of Pok Choy that weren't fresh enough for a stir fry, I made a thuvayal with it. It was very tasty and I know we will have it again soon.

1 1/2 cups Pok Choy, washed and roughly chopped
2 tbsp Coconut, scraped
1 tbsp Oil
2 Green Chillies
1/2 tsp Chilli Flakes
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
2 tsp Black Gram Dal
1 tsp Tamarind Paste
Salt to Taste

For the tempering:
1 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Black Gram Dal
a pinch Asafoetida
5-6 Curry Leaves
Heat the oil and fry the green chillies, red chilli flakes, mustard seeds, sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and black gram dal for a couple of minutes. Add the pok choy along with the coconut and fry for 2 minutes. Grind the mixture along with the tamarind paste and salt.

Heat the teaspoon of oil for the tempering in a frying ladle. Add the mustard, black gram dal and the asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves. Add this tempering to the pok choy mixture.
Mix some rice and ghee/ sesame oil. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the thuvayal. Mix well and get ready for a quick trip to heaven. That's how good this was.

May 2, 2012

An apology, a lot of gratitude and some Lemon Raspberry Muffins

A baby, a full time job, and a second master's...I have had my hands full. It has been 8 months since I posted anything on this blog. I have been cooking a lot. I have even been taking some photographs. But I simply was not able to log in and write a post. I am sorry to have neglected this blog for so long.

I have had a lot of emails from my readers and friends asking if things are fine at my end. I am touched and honoured. Despite not having updated the blog in a long time, I continue to get emails and FB posts (even phone calls) about stuff people cooked from the blog and how the blog helps them decide what to make for dinner. Thank you all.

I am back with more baked treats. I have been baking quite a bit. I baked this batch of muffins over a year ago, but realized that I hadn't posted the recipe on the blog. This recipe has been adapted from Nigella's recipe.

1/4 cup Oil
1 1/3 cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
Grated zest and juice of 1 Lemon
1/2 cup Milk (approx)
1 Egg
1/2 cup Raspberries

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).

Line a 12-muffin pan with muffin cases.

In a 1 cup measure, place the juice of 1 lemon. Add the milk into this to make the total 1 cup. Add the egg and beat the mixture. Add the oil and sugar and whisk together.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the centre of this mixture and pour in the liquid ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients into the liquid lightly until it all comes together. Fold in the raspberries and mix gently.

Scoop the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean.
A simple recipe and a post to help me remember that day 5 years ago, when I sat idly at home, barely 2 days into a new job, starting this blog. I can't thank my lucky stars enough for all the friends it has given me. I never planned this. All I wanted was a place to store my recipes. Now I have that and more. Much more. I hope to keep at it with more regularity.

The Singing Chef completes 5 years today. Thanks to each one of you for your support.