June 29, 2012

Bharwa Karela (Stuffed Baby Bittergourd)

Bittergourd is one of those vegetables that I am sort of indifferent to. I can't profess undying love for this cucurbit. At the same time, I will not suddenly decide to participate in a 100m dash just because this vegetable shows up on the menu. I have eaten it and enjoyed it in many ways.

Many years ago, a classmate of mine invited me to lunch and made stuffed bittergourd. I was more into baking and western cooking then and so I didn't think about asking her for the recipe. This time when I brought home a bag of baby bittergourds, I decided to try making a stuffed version of my own, taking a cue from my stuffed lady's finger recipe.

1/4 kilo Baby Bittergourd

To be mixed together:

1 tbsp Chopped Garlic
1/4 cup Gram Flour (Besan)
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
¼ tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Bharwan Tawa Masala (optional)
1 tsp Lime Juice
Salt to taste

For the tempering:
2 tsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida

Wash the bitter gourds well and dry on a towel until completely dry. Chop the two ends off for each gourd. Slit each gourd lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Heat 4 cups of water and add some salt to this. Add the slit gourds and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and cool.

Stuff the prepared mixture into the bittergourds.

In a pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the asafoetida and the stuffed bittergourds. Cover and cook on a low flame till the gourds are done (about 15 minutes). Remove the lid and allow to crispen.

I could eat a bowl of this as it is. That is how good it is. It definitely has some bitterness, which I don't mind. But apart from that, it is tangy and spicy and just what a side dish needs to be.

June 9, 2012

Eggless Chocolate Cake

For birthdays, when I have no idea what to gift the person, I try and take a home made cake along. Oftentimes, there is a dietary restriction thanks to allergies or cultural beliefs. Earlier, I would hunt for recipes that would fit the needs of the person, but these days, I find myself more open to experimenting even in baking. This eggless chocolate cake came together very quickly. I used ricotta cheese as an egg substitute. I had meant to use silken tofu, but I realized that I had run out of it. A tip I learnt from the Food Network was to add some instant coffee to enhance the chocolatey flavour of cakes. I tried that too and I must say it worked very well.
1 cup Flour
2 1/2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Instant Coffee Powder
1/2 cup Sugar
a Pinch Salt
1/4 cup Oil
1/4 cup Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla
Prepare an 10" ring or 8" round cake tin by greasing and flouring it.
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
Beat the ricotta, oil, milk, sugar and vanilla together. Sift the remaining dry ingredients together and add them to the liquid mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack and cut into slices. Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea. This is a perfect eggless chocolate cake and the recipe is a keeper.

June 2, 2012

Banana Ricotta Cake (Eggless)

A few years ago I hadn't even tasted a banana cake. Now I have lost count of the number of times I have baked it. I have taken orders for it and have also tried out multiple versions of it. And I am now back with one more. These days, we consume our bananas in a smoothie every morning. Plus baby A loves eating bananas. So, I am very rarely left with bananas that are over ripe, let alone blackened. I deliberately kept a few bananas aside to make this loaf. (There is no limit to one's craziness, I suppose!)
1 cup Flour
¾ cup Wheat Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
¼ tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
¾ cup Jaggery, grated
3-4 Bananas (overripe), peeled
1/3 cup Oil
1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
Oil and flour for lining and dusting

Heat the oven to 350F. Grease and dust a loaf tin.

Sift the dry ingredients together.

Combine the bananas, ricotta cheese, oil and jaggery in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, blend all these to a rough paste. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and add the toasted walnuts. Mix well and pour into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 35-40 minutes (or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean). Cool on a rack for a few minutes.

Cut into slices and serve. This cake doesn't keep very well beyond the second day. I hope you won't need to keep it for two days!