Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rich Chocolate Cake with Ganache topping

I am a wannabe baker - although I never seem to have the right implements - the shiny cake tins of just the correct size, pretty ramekins and such like. But that doesn't stop me from going ahead and taking up baking projects head on which I know I'm usually unsuited for! I've gotten to be quite ok with cakes though ... especially as my little boy loves mucking around with me in the kitchen everytime we make one. We never need to scrub the mixing bowls too hard after we're done - he is really good at helping me with that :)

So just for him, I decided to make this cake on Holi along with the other traditional sweets like ghujiya etc. and his friends and him had a blast blowing out the candles and stuffing their faces with lots of the choco icing.

Ingredients - for the Fudge Cake:
1. 250 g unsalted butter at room temperature
2. 400 g sugar
3. 4 eggs
4 125 g dark cocoa powder (Hintz is especially good and not too sweet)
5. 375 ml milk
6. 500 ml corn oil
7. 10 g baking soda
8. 400 g maida or all purpose flour

For the Ganache:
1. 500 ml fresh cream
2. 50 ml water
3. 500 gm mix of dark and sweet chocolate (any good cooking chocolate brand)
4. 20 ml melted butter

Method - For the Base Cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 160 deg C.
2. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, oil and milk to the mixture and whisk well by hand or using an automated whisk.
3. Next, add the dry ing (flour, cocoa powder and baking soda) through a seive and slowly fold in taking care to scrape the bottom of the mixing bowl.
4. Grease a cake tin with some butter, dust with sugar to get a caramelised effect on the cake, pour in the mixture and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or till done.

For the Ganache:
1. Break the dark and sweet chocolate pieces and melt over a double boiler (if you don't have one, use a large pan with boiling water and place a smaller pan with the chocolate on top and stir continuously).
2. Boil the cream and water separately and pour over the chocolate.
3. Finally add the melted butter, mix slowly till blended and remove from heat.

Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack. Then using a sharp bread knife, slice horizontally from the centre - spread the ganache on one half, place the sliced half on top and spread the remaining ganache on top of the cake till it is covered. Dust the top with cocoa powder and serve.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Whole Cauliflower or 'Gobi Musallam'

A very Happy Holi and Easter to all of you wonderful bloggers! We had a wonderful brunch at home yesterday with a few close friends and although we didn't play with colours, we made sure to make up for it by eating most of the traditional holi foods. I will be posting a longish one on that next - for now, wanted to share this easy recipe for cooking whole cauliflower or "Gobi Musallam". Makes for a nice change from the usual gobi recipes.


1. One whole medium cauliflower or 4 baby cauliflowers with stems removed.
2. One tsp each kashmiri chillie powder, aamchur (dry mango powder), turmeric powder and salt to taste mixed to a paste for the marinade.
3. Four green chillies slit and stuffed with kalonji (nigella) seeds:

4. Two tbsp tomato paste.
5. One tsp each red chillie powder and cumin seeds (jeera) powder for the gravy.
6. Half a cup beaten yoghurt.
7. Two tbsp corn/olive oil.
8. Half a cup water.


1. Apply the marinade (Ing 1) all over the cauliflower taking care to rub the paste between the stalks as well. Leave aside for 10 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a deep pan and brown the marinated gobi on all sides. Keep aside.

3. In the same pan, add the stuffed green chillies and allow the seeds to pop - about 15 seconds.
4. Now add the tomato paste and dry masalas (Ing 5) and fry well.
5. Add half a cup of water and bring to a boil.
6. Gently place the browned cauliflower in the gravy. Cover tightly with a lid and simmer on dum (place the pan on top of a heavy griddle or tava to achieve this effect) till cooked but not mushy.
7. Remove the lid, pour the beaten yoghurt over the gobi and cook for two minutes while gently mixing the curds through.
8. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with phulkas and yellow moong dal.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Broken wheat porridge

Burghol or broken wheat

is really versatile in the number of things one can do with it. Not to mention that its nutrition quotient is quite high. My favorite way to eat it is as the following savory porridge at breakfast.


1. One cup raw broken wheat.
2. One cup assorted chopped fresh or frozen vegetables.
3. One tbsp cooked chickpeas or fava beans (optional) to increase the protein level in this meal.
4. One each sliced onion and tomato.
5. Any herb of your choice - I used a pinch of crushed dried basil.
6. Salt and pepper as per taste.
7. Yoghurt as an accompaniment.


1. Place all the ingredients except the yoghurt and cooked beans in a pressure cooker. (This can also be made in a saucepan. Boil till the burghol is cooked and vegetables just done).
2. Cover with water.
3. Cook under pressure till single whistle.
4. Open the lid and mix the beans if using.
5. Serve in bowls topped with a dollop of yoghurt or grated cheese.

The great thing about this porridge is that you can use just about any assortment of available vegetables. This can also be eaten topped with dal.

Friday, March 14, 2008


The other day I was chatting with the ubiquitous 'T' who helps me around the house and I told her about some apple jalebis that I had recently eaten. She said "Apple jalebis!?" ... "so dosa ittu inda nu mada bahud alla?" ... which is Kannada for, "if someone can make jalebis out of apples, then I can definitely make them using dosa batter!". And she did. I kid you not. I came home from work one evening and found them all ready to be soaked into sugar syrup sitting on the kitchen counter. She's obviously made these before, but I was suitably impressed. I made a second batch the other day under her guidance and they were pretty good.

Most of us usually have some extra dosa batter in the fridge on any given day, but for those who need to make from scratch, here goes:

For the batter:
1. Three cups of any branded boiled rice.
2. One cup basmati rice.
3. One cup white urad dal.
4. Forgot to mention this - a pinch of orange food colour.

If idli rice is available in your local grocery, you could substitute Ing 1&2 for 4 cups of that instead.

For the sugar syrup:
1. One cup sugar.
2. One cup water.
3. One tsp crushed cardamom.

Boil the sugar and water together in a pan till you get a "one string" consistency. i.e. when the mixture starts to become syrupy, test a small amount between your thumb and fore finger - if the syrup binds enough to form a "string", take the pan of the heat. Add the cardamom and keep aside.

1. Soak the rice and lentils separately in water for a few hours.
2. Drain the water from the dal and grind using as little liquid as possible till fluffy. Keep aside.
3. Now grind the rice using a little water till fine but not too paste like.
4. Mix the two together well and keep in a warm place for a few hours (preferably overnight) for the batter to "rise". Add the orange food colour to the amount of batter being used for the jalebis.
5. Cut a tiny hole in a clean plastic sheet or piping bag, spoon in some of the batter and deep fry in hot oil in the shape of concentric circles.
6. Drain on kitchen towels and soak in the syrup for 15 minutes.
7. These can be served warm or cold with a glass of milk.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Savory pancakes with vegetable stir fry

School vacations have begun and that means fancy breakfasts for my son who needs many many things from hour to hour to keep him from bouncing off the walls! Involving him in the cooking process makes it one less activity for me to think of.

Looking through the many wonderful brekky ideas online I found Archana's latest post on pancakes and realised that it had been more than a month since I had made any - power of suggestion kicked in and I soon had the little tyke mucking around in the kitchen elbow deep in flour and generally keeping busy :).

Its difficult to get my husband to eat anything sweet or fruit based in the morning so I rummaged through my stock and found these:

Voila! Decided to rustle up a healthy stir fry with all those green vegetables and stuff them in the pancakes for a super filling breakfast - this would also mean a simple salad for office lunch instead of having to make a big meal. All in all, a winner in my book!

Pancakes : I took the recipe directly from here. I had never used baking powder in them before and I was happy to see that using it made the pancakes so much fluffier. Tx Archana :).

As these are not dessert crepes, don't brown them too much and make them as thin as possible by swirling the tava around so they can roll around the filling.

Stir Fry :

1. One cup assorted vegetables chopped lengthwise into thin strips. Cabbage and capsicum are essential for the taste.
2. One tsp light soya sauce.
3. A few cubes tofu or paneer (optional) seasoned with salt and pepper and kept aside.
4. One onion and few cloves garlic julienned into strips.
5. Thai sweet chilli sauce to taste.
6. Two eggs.
7. One tbsp olive oil.
8. One tsp sesame oil.
9. Chopped corriander or cilantro leaves.


1. Make thin pancakes and stack on a plate.
2. Heat the olive oil in a wok/deep pan and make a thin omlete with the two eggs. Set aside on a plate - roll and cut into long strips.
3. In the same pan, saute onions on garlic for 5 seconds on high heat and then add the soya sauce. Stir for a few seconds
4. Add the vegetables and toss for a few seconds till just crunchy.
5. Now add the tofu or paneer pieces and fry for 10 more seconds.
6. Season with salt, pepper, chili sauce and chopped corriander leaves.
7. Stir once to mix, add the sesame oil and omlete strips and finish by stirring one last time for a few more seconds.

8. Place some of the filling on one side of each pancake and roll.
9. Serve hot on a plate piled with the remaining stir fry.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Pesarittu with upma

This is a great recipe for when you have stored left over upma in the fridge - its also very filling and can be used for Sunday brunch. I learnt about this combination from my house help - she is from Andhra Pradesh (in South India) and this is apparently a regular breakfast staple there.

Pesarittu (green moong dal pancakes or dosas):


1. One cup whole green moong dal washed and soaked overnight in water.
2. Salt to taste.
3. A little oil for frying the dosas.


1. Grind the dal in a blender or dosa grinder with as much water from the soaking liquid as it needs to make a thick batter. Add salt to taste.
2. Take a spoonful of the batter and drop onto a heated gridle or tava to make a thick dosa or pancake.
3. Pour a tsp of oil over the dosa and turnover when the edges leave the tava.
4. Fry on the other side and flip over again.
5. Now place a generous helping of the upma on one half of the dosa and cover with second half (like making a stuffed omlette).
6. Leave on the tava for a few seconds to heat through and slide out on a serving plate.
7. This can be served with any chutney or pickle for a nutritious and filling breakfast.

Upma : Roast a cupful of semolina in a pan and remove from heat. Add a tbsp of oil in the same pan and crackle a few mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add one sliced onion and fry till transparent. Now add one sliced tomato and half a cupful of fresh or frozen chopped vegetables to the pan. Stir for a few seconds, add half a tsp turmeric powder and salt to taste, cover with water and bring to a boil. Now add the roasted rava and mix through to make a "lumpy" upma.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Rava Vade

Ingredients :

1. Half a cup or roughly 100 gms of semolina.
2. Half a cup of yoghurt.
3. One tsp each of chopped green chillies and corriander leaves.
4. One small onion chopped.
5. 1/2 tsp baking soda
6. Salt to taste.

Method :

1. Roast the semolina taking care that it doesn't change colour for two minutes.
2. Remove from heat and mix in the dry ingredients (no. 3 to 6).
3. Now add the yoghurt a little at a time to make a dough of roughly the following consistency. You can use more or less of the curds depending on the texture.

4. Wet hands with water, scoop out some of the mixture onto a square of cling film or a clean sheet of plastic and shape into flat vadas.

5. Carefully slide them one at a time into hot oil and deep fry.

These vadas are a great accompaniment with upma.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mezze and More.

One of the best things about residing in a country other than your own is the fact that you can become a part of the local flavor - whether its the language, traditions, way of life or quite simply the FOOD. The UAE has always been described as the ultimate melting pot of cultures and to begin with this is evident in the way various Middle Eastern nationalities come together here ... be it Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Emirati and just like in India, each culture adds something unique to the overall cuisine.

One thing that I always look forward to is the drive back from work every evening. I take a coast road past the ocean line and the route is dotted with an old port complete with quaint boats docked to unload goods, Iranian roasteries where the best nuts and spices are to be had and of course any number of "Shawarma" and "Falafel" fast food places where I stop for a bit and have a wrap, a salad or simply a glass of juice (kiwi fruit and blended avacado with ice cream to name a few!).

Although a lot of Arabic cuisine is meat based and fried, the overall eating culture is really bursting with good health with a lot of emphasis on accompaniments that are fresh, yogurt or salad based and washed down with great fresh juices or "Laban" which is a truly delicious version of buttermilk and is used in a variety of ways including for dips. A typical Arabic meal usually starts with Mezze or starters and includes dips (baba ghanouj, hummus bi tahina, garlic paste), sambusek (puff pastry with cheese filling), stuffed vine leaves

salads such as Tabouleh

which uses cracked wheat and parsley or Fattoush which is a really tangy green salad and toasted pita bread combo.

All local restaurants will first serve you huge trays of salad vegetables such as whole cucumbers, red radishes, scallions and carrots served with neatly wrapped Khubz or flat bread and at least 2 dips - usually Hummus and garlic paste. This comes with any meal and is not charged for. There is a certain charm in the way the way each tray has its own paring knife and one literally prepares a salad straight from the garden as it were and enjoys the dips while waiting for the main meal.

The street I live in has at least 5 wonderful Arabic restaurants and two specializing in just Arabic sweets like the semolina based "Konafa", and all I have to do is walk a few steps if I want a light, flavourful, local meal. Sometimes however, I do make local food at home and last night was one such stay-at-home occasion when I thought that my small family would like some Arabic.

I laid out some store bought Khubz (substitute with naan or tandoori roti if unavailable),

soaked chickpeas for a hummus dip, put together some Fattoush and started up a meat based stew for the husband and son who are both carnivores and like a little meat at dinner. That and a pitcher of Moroccon tea to wash it all down. I would have put on harem pants if I had them - ok, maybe not! But you get the idea ...

Menu :

1. Fattoush
2. Hummus bi Tahina
3. Bamia
4. Pita Bread
5. Moroccon tea

For Fattoush:

- 2 or 3 tomatoes, cubed
- 2 cucumbers with skin on, cubed
- 1 medium green pepper, seeded and diced
- A few scallions or spring onions chopped
- 1/2 small lettuce, shredded
- 2 Tbs. finely chopped parsley
- 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint
- 1 pita bread (or 2-3 slices of bread), toasted and cut into cubes. I actually tore the pita and put it directly into the toaster :).
- A dressing made from olive oil and lemon juice in a 3:1 ratio and seasoned with salt and black pepper.


Combine the vegetables, herbs, and bread. Make the dressing, pour it over the salad, toss well, and chill for half an hour minutes before serving.

For Hummus bi Tahina(Chickpea and Sesame Dip)

- 125 gms chickpeas (chole), soaked for a few hours and pressure cooked or you can use ready canned as well.
- juice of 2 lemons
- 3 Tbs. tahina (if you can't get ready made paste, make your own by putting about 2 tbsp of sesame seeds in the blender and grinding until smooth. Then add about 1/2 tsp sesame (til) oil and about 1/2 cup warm water in a slow stream to get a thick sauce. This can be stored in the fridge for repeat use).
- 2 garlic cloves
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil and some red chilli or paprika powder for garnish.


Process the chickpeas in a blender (or food processor) with the lemon juice, tahina, garlic, salt and enough of the cooking liquid or water to obtain a soft creamy consistency.

Serve on a flat plate, garnished with a dribble of olive oil, a dusting of paprika and a little parsley.

3. Bamia : Consists of lamb (mutton), whole Okra pods (lady fingers), chopped tomatoes, garlic and tamarind juice.

This is a fragrant, simple stew that uses very little oil and I made it from here.

And there was this Moroccan tea to go with the meal:

- Pour 4 cups of boiling water into a pitcher containing about 4 tsp green tea, 2 cups of fresh mint leaves and about 1/2 a cup of sugar (I drastically reduced the quantity to suit my taste)

- Allow the tea to steep for at least 3 minutes before serving. It was quite warm last night so we added a lot of ice tall glasses and poured the infusion topped with more mint for our with dinner drinks.

- Make sure to stir the pitcher with a long spoon before serving.

And synchronicity happened when husband walked in from work with a tray of Konafa from the Tripoli Lebanon sweet shop across the street to thus end a great meal.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Easy Matters and some Methi Rotis

First up, Archana from that wonderful storehouse of veg goodies "Archana's Kitchen" thought that I was deserving of the "Nice Matters" award! The award was meant for "good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. It is also for those who have a positive influence on our blogging world."

It simply made my day and just makes me want to come up with innovative food ideas to share.

So realised that I hadn't had any greens yesterday and in the interest of upping those perpetually low haemoglobin levels, decided to make something with the Methi that was in the vegetable basket. Here goes ...

Masala Methi Rotis


1. Whole wheat flour (Atta) : 1 large cup
2. Roasted channa flour (Besan) : 2 cups
3. Cleaned and chopped fenugreek (methi) leaves : 1 bunch
4. One tsp each of red chillie powder, turmeric powder and ajwain seeds (optional)
5. Pinch of asafoetida (hing)
6. 1 tbsp of melted ghee or butter
7. Salt to taste
8. Water for kneading


1. Sift together the flours, dry masalas, ajwain seeds (if using), salt and hing.
2. Pour the melted ghee and rub through the dry mixture.

3. Add the cleaned methi leaves and knead without water till mixed well.
4. Now add water a little at a time to make a hard dough (this is necessary as the methi leaves will make the dough softer by the time its ready for use).

5. Stand for 15 minutes.
6. When ready to cook, take small balls of dough and roll out like chappattis.
7. Cook on a hot gridle (tava) on both sides and then roast directly on the fire till brown spots appear.
8. Smear with a little ghee or butter and serve with curds and a bowl of dal tadka or any pickle of your choice.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Three for the Box

Early morning chaos is something that my 4 year old is blissfully unaware of. He makes his debut in the kitchen at 6.30 a.m. for his morning cuppa (horlicks) and does a casual inventory of his lunch box to see if all is in order. He's just learning about healthy foods and has his own personal list that includes fries, chocolate and cookies. He's magnanimously relegated processed chips to the "not healthy" category. But he always expects to see something different in that mini box and I spend 30 minutes every evening suffering from performance anxiety on this score!

I went to the mart last evening and found some nice cherry tomatoes, sliced pineapples

and together with a pack of sundried tomatoes I had in the fridge, this morning was relatively easy.

1. Salad : One cup of halved cherry tomatoes and diced pineapples topped with mozarella cheese. I made a savory version for my own lunch without pineapples but with a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, oregano and chillie flakes instead. If cherry tomatoes are hard to come by, just use regular ones as long as they are red and firm and dice them just like the pineapples.

2. Hash Browns :

This is the quick version. Peel and grate one large potato directly into a dish of salted water. Heat a few drops of olive oil in a frying pan. Take a handful of the potato, squeeze out as much water as you can and place it directly on the sizzling oil.

Flatten with a spatula and sprinkle with salt, pepper, herb and grated cheese. As the oregano and mozarella were already on my counter, I used these but the choice is yours and is even optional. I had a few sundried tomatoes soaking in a bowl of water

and I topped a few of the browns with these for a burst of flavour. Again optional. The hash browns are crunchy and filling with taste just fine with nothing but salt and pepper. These can be served with eggs and some fruit for a balanced breakfast.

3. Shammmi Kababs : I usually pre-mix the kababs and freeze, so all I had to do was shape and shallow fry them. I will put up this recipe in a separate post soon.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Semolina Laddoos

A friend of mine had been hounding me to make her some of these ...

she remembered having eaten them at home when she was expecting and she REALLY wanted them again :D . I finally got around to doing them on Friday and some of them found their way into my stomach even before I was finished. This isn't exactly the healthiest recipe in the world but makes up for that by being scrumptious!


1. 250 gms or 1 large cup Semolina (chiroti rava)
2. One tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
3. 150 gms fresh, grated coconut
4. 150 ml warm milk
5. One tsp powdered green cardamom (elaichi)
6. Approx. 50 gms raisins and cashewnuts
7. 100 gms sugar (increase or decrease as per taste).


1. Place the semolina in a pan, top with ghee and fry till slightly brown. Keep aside in a tray or large plate.

2. In the same pan, brown the dry fruits and keep aside.

3. Add the coconut and roast till just beginning to change colour. Remove from heat.

4. Add the cardamom, dry fruits, sugar and coconut to the sugar and toss well.

5. Now pour milk a little at a time while taking handfuls of the mixture and shaping them into balls (laddoos).

Zimble? Happy cooking :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Khatte Baingan

Although the name suggests the use of tamarind in this recipe, I make a variation using yoghurt to give it a creamier texture. People are ambivalent about the big ole eggplant but fortunately for me everyone at home loves eating this tasty vegetable as much as I do.


1. 1/2 kilo long purple brinjals, cut into roundels and soaked in salt water.
2. 1/2 cup or two medium sized sliced onions.
3. One large ripe tomato sliced.
4. Whole garam masala (1 inch stick cinnamon, 3-4 cloves, 3 green cardamoms).
5. One tsp each of turmeric powder, chillie powder and corriander seeds powder.
6. 1 cup thick, beaten yoghurt.
7. Salt to taste.
8. 3 - 4 Tbsps vegetable oil for frying.


1. Heat oil in a deep frying fan.
2. Drain water from the brinjals and fry lightly. Remove and keep aside on a kitchen towel.
3. To the same oil, add the garam masala till it splutters.
4. Immediately add the onions and fry till golden brown and still slightly limp.
5. Add the dry masala and stir for a few seconds till oil separates.
6. Now add the sliced tomatoes and stir the mixture till soft (tomatoes shouldn't be too mashed).
7. Toss in the fried brinjals at this stage and pour the beaten yoghurt over them.
8. Season with salt and mix gently to avoid breaking the brinjals.
9. Cook on a low flame for 2 minutes (cooking any longer will separate the yoghurt), remove and garnish with a small dollop of cream or corriander leaves (optional).

Khatte baingan work well with dry phulkas but can be had as an accompaniment with dal and rice as well.

Hey, any Srilankans out there who know how to make a good sambal ? Then please write in :). Happy cooking!